Central Scotland MSP says it’s time to take stock of pill use

The Conservatives say the cost of anti-depressants is spiralling out of control
The Conservatives say the cost of anti-depressants is spiralling out of control

A Conservative MSP has accused the Scottish Government of abandoning its pledge to cut the number of people prescribed “happy pills”.

Tory Margaret Mitchell said the numbers are “out of control” after it was revealed the cost of prescribing anti-depressants in Scotland had risen by £10 million last year.

A report from the Information Services Division of the NHS in Scotland shows almost 5.5 million medications were dispensed in 2013/14 - 275,000 more than the previous year.

Mrs Mitchell has urged ministers to think again. She said: “The SNP made a definite promise in 2007 to cut the rise in anti-depressants handed out in Scotland. But since then it’s spiralled out of control.

“This is not only an incredible burden on the taxpayer but also raises concerns about the many patients for whom a pill is not the best alternative.”

However, public health minister and Falkirk MSP Michael Matheson said doctors should continue to prescribe anti-depressants as they see fit as well as consider “social” remedies.

He said: “Anti-depressants are a legitimate form of treatment for an illness, as insulin is used to treat diabetes. If GPs feel anti-depressants are required, they should prescribe them.

“GPs tell us an increasing number of patients are presenting with depression, but they are being encouraged to give social prescriptions.

“This might mean prescribing an activity like walking or gardening which we know can help with mental health issues.

“In Falkirk, I know Falkirk District Association for Mental Health is linking up with GP practices to support social prescriptions as options.”