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THE Tories want the Scottish Government to make a bigger effort to get more people off anti-depressant pills to save NHS cash.
THE Scottish Government has been urged to make a “concerted effort” to cut the number of people in Scotland who need anti-depressants.
The Conservatives made the plea after figures showed almost £90 million was spent on the drugs in the last three years.
More than 5.2 million prescriptions for anti-depressants were issued in 2012-13, according to the Conservatives, up from just under 4.5 million in 2010-11.
The bill for this last year was more than £29.5 million, and over the last three years almost £89.8 million has been spent.
Tory health spokesman and deputy leader Jackson Carlaw accepted the medicines had “a place in treating some mental health problems” but added: “The fear for some time has been doctors are turning to them too readily.”
He said: “These figures appear to confirm that, and it’s time for a real concerted effort from the Scottish Government to get these numbers down.
“People cannot just be parked on anti-depressants, we need solutions that will see them beat the condition and return to positive mental wellbeing.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said doctors prescribed anti-depressants for patients “in line with good clinical practice”.
She said: “We now have a much better knowledge of how anti-depressants should be prescribed and how effective they are for a range of conditions, and GPs are becoming increasingly effective at identifying and diagnosing depression in patients.
“Where these drugs are prescribed, it is in line with good clinical practice, including ongoing supervision by their GP to ensure that patients only remain on these drugs as long as it is appropriate for their individual condition. They are often used in conjunction with other treatment such as counseling and psychological therapies.”
The Scottish Government’s mental health strategy makes a number of commitments to help people with mental health problems, including providing faster access to psychological services.
By December 2014, the standard for referral to start of therapy will be 18 weeks, with NHS boards said to be making good progress towards meeting the psychological therapies target.