Page last updated at 11:28 GMT, Wednesday, 19 May 2010 12:28 UK

Government anti-depressant target questioned

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Ministers want to halt the increasing rate of anti-depressant prescriptions

Scottish government targets to halt the rise in anti-depressant prescriptions are too simplistic, MSPs have warned.

Amid a quadrupling of the prescription rates in the past 15 years, ministers pledged to reduce the increase.

But Holyrood's public audit committee raised concerns that data on the issue was not being properly collected, and questioned how the target could be met.

Ministers have said the prescription of drugs was a clinical decision to be made by doctors.

The government says drugs can help patients live normal lives instead of being "disabled", in conjunction policies to improve access to non-drug treatments, such as talking therapies.

'Closer monitoring'

Publishing a report on the issue, the public audit committee said the reasons for the rise in anti-depressant prescriptions remained unclear.

Its convener, the Labour MSP Hugh Henry, said: "The committee is concerned the Scottish government does not currently collect information on the number of people taking anti-depressants and the data collected does not explain why the level of anti-depressant prescribing continues to increase.

"The committee therefore questions whether the Scottish government target to reduce the increase of anti-depressant prescribing can be achieved."

MSPs also expressed concern about some of the reasons given for the variations in prescribing in different areas, including that female GPs were more likely to prescribe anti-depressants compared with older doctors.

The committee also called for closer government monitoring of how cash was used to fund mental health services.

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