MSPs pledge cross party support for voluntary sector groups

Local MSPs have pledged cross party support to voluntary sector organisations seeking to improve health and social care services in the Scottish Borders.

At the annual MSPs meeting hosted by Borders Voluntary Community Care Forum (BVCCF), Christine Grahame and South Scotland members Claudia Beamish and Jim Hume agreed to take forward a number of concerns raised by BVCCF and its members.

Since 2009, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Network (DHNN) in the Borders has been campaigning to have SMS texting available for deaf and hard of hearing people to allow them to contact the local health centre or Borders General Hospital to make or cancel appointments. The emergency services and the AA now offer this facility.

The MSPs agreed that this was a national issue, not just a local one, and said they would take it up with Ministers and the NHS. They also suggested that a petition should go to the Scottish Parliament.

The Post Natal Depression Service in the Borders currently receives no funding from statutory sources despite excellent feedback and referrals from NHS and Scottish Borders Council services. In light of the research demonstrating the importance of early years interventions on improved life chances, particularly relating to mental health and youth crime, and the strategic importance placed on early years preventative work, the MSPs were asked if they could offer any indication of resources to support these services from national level, or demonstrate any support they could offer at a local level.

Since PND reopened last March, there have been 50 referrals and 30-40 women have gone through the process. The service is supported by people throughout the Borders, by individuals and groups, but it can only open 1.5 days a week due to lack of funding.

Again, all three MSPs agreed that this was a matter of concern that required cross party support, and agreed to take it up with relevant Ministers.

Other areas highlighted at the meeting, attended by over 40 BVCCF members, included welfare reforms, out of hours GP services, the stigma facing users of mental health services, and poverty in the Borders.

BVCCF Co-ordinator, Jenny Miller, said: “The fact that there was such a willingness by all three MSPs to offer their support and suggest ways of addressing some of these concerns was much appreciated..”