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Vulnerable Patients (Engagement with General Practitioner Services)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 31st October 2019.

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Photo of Bob Doris Bob Doris Scottish National Party

A notice has been on display in a GP’s practice in Springburn in my constituency that informs potential new patients that certain drugs, including diazepam, temazepam and morphine, or any of its alternatives, are not normally prescribed. The notice states that new patients would be expected to engage in appropriate withdrawal programmes.

I do not doubt the good intentions behind the notice, but concerns have been raised with me that it might deter vulnerable individuals from registering with a GP in the first place.

How will the Scottish Government seek to support GP practices to develop a consistent approach that encourages drug users to engage with services in the first place and to ensure that appropriate services to support recovery are widely available in our communities?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

I thank Bob Doris for raising an important issue. I can certainly understand the concerns that he has raised, and I appreciate the constructive way in which he has done so.

I am very clear that integration authorities and alcohol and drug partnerships must provide services that meet the needs of their resident populations, and that they must do so in a way that does not stigmatise people who need support.

Prescribers should follow national and local prescribing guidance in prescribing methadone, benzodiazepines and other medicines that might be used to manage people with problematic drug use. All services that are delivered and all medicines that are prescribed must be based on clinical need and should be discussed with patients in the context of their long-term recovery.