Bakers Bulletin - More support is urgently needed for our local health services

In recent weeks the provision of local health services has been the subject of heated debate. 

We already know that NHS Grampian is facing real problems in terms of recruitment and meeting waiting times targets. It is clear that the fact NHS Grampian has been underfunded for so long has made their job of providing services to patients so much more difficult. 

Currently, NHS Grampian is underfunded by some £30 million compared to other health boards and it is unacceptable that SNP Ministers have allowed this situation to deteriorate so badly. 

That is why I have stepped up my calls for NHS Grampian to receive a fair funding settlement from the Scottish Government because, ultimately, it is patients who suffer.  While this affects services across our local NHS, one area which has been particularly badly hit and does not receive the attention it should is the provision of mental health services. 

Figures released recently show that there are more medicines used in mental health being dispensed across the board from antidepressants to dementia medication. The number of dispensed antidepressant drugs has risen by over 22,000 in Grampian between 2012/13 and 2013/14 with figures increasing steadily over the last decade.

The increase in drugs being dispensed for mental health issues and the steady increase over the last decade are worrying and there must be work undertaken to look at the underlying causes of the rise  - in particular the huge increase in the prescription of antidepressant drugs.

I am concerned some people may have become more reliant on medication after the withdrawal of a number of key local mental health service facilities.

I understand the budget pressures our local authorities and health services are under due to Scottish Government budget decisions but talking therapies and other interventions are not a cheap option but need to be a bigger part of the picture. That is why I will continue to campaign for the Scottish Government to do more to help patients and their families.

Since I raised these issues during Scottish Mental Health Week a number of people with experience of local mental health services have been in touch with me to speak of concerns they have over local provision. That is why Scottish Ministers must now ensure that local services are provided with the resources they need to carry out their vital work.