Last month I got the opportunity to discuss local concerns amongst residents in the Firrhill area of Edinburgh after the local community council invited me to participate in a hustings at Oxgangs Library.
Availability and access to health services are a key concern amongst many individuals who contact me so I was pleased to get the opportunity to discuss the concerns of Firrhill residents.
For a number of years there have been plans to develop a new health and social care centre in the area which would bring together general practitioners along with other community health services.
However, over time, the range of services that have been proposed have changed and there is concern that the centre will merely bring different GP practices under one roof.
There has been discussion that the centre will have ‘hot desk’ facilities allowing staff from different community health services to use it as required.
A key area where people want to see increased provision is in mental health services. Within the area there are pockets of deprivation where people are particularly vulnerable. In recent times there have been three suicides involving young men along with a number of attempted suicides.
Mental health services are currently delivered from a base in the city centre. Staff are required to travel for home visits and there is a need for access to clinical space in the area which the new centre could provide. Linked to mental health services, there is also a desire to see better facilities to offer assistance to people with drug and alcohol abuse problems.
Another area where there is a lack of comprehensive local service relates to child health. For example, there is a clinic offering speech and language therapy based out of a local school which can only run in term-time.
The hustings was a great chance for local residents to take part discussions on what services they would like to see prioritised in the area and helped to focus minds on what the community wants ahead of further consultation on the centre.
I would like to thank the members of Firrhill Community Council for the invitation and look forward to being able to take part in similar events in future.