HEALTH bosses have been ordered to apologise after a child was prescribed anti-depressants before being properly assessed.

The patient’s parent, named as Ms C by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO), complained that the practice failed to asses ‘Child A’ before issuing the tablets and referring her to child and adolescent mental health services.

She also said doctors failed to give the appropriate information when she raised concerns.

Now the watchdog has forced the surgery to apologise.

The decision comes in the same week that figures were released showing the use of anti-depressant drugs in the Borders is at a new high.

In 2018, a total of 158,808 prescriptions were issued – an increase of more than 4,000 on the year before.

The report from the SPSO stated: “In investigating Ms C’s complaints, we took independent advice from a GP.

“We found that in relation to the prescription of anti-depressants, this was a repeat prescription that should not have been issued.

“We found that Child A should have had a face-to-face assessment prior to anti-depressants being re-prescribed.

“We found that this was an administration error as it should have been noted by the administrative staff who printed the repeat prescription that there had been a lengthy period of time since the last repeat prescription.

“We upheld this aspect of Ms C’s complaint, however we considered that the actions already taken by the practice would address this issue.

“In relation to the referral to child and adolescent mental health services, we found that this should not have been made without Child A’s consent, and without a face-to-face assessment of Child A.

“Therefore, we upheld the complaints that there was an unreasonable failure to assess Child A and that the referral was unreasonable.

“However, in relation to the information that was included in the referral, we considered this to be reasonable. We found that appropriate action had been taken by the practice to address the failure to assess Child A in person prior to the referral being made, however, we made a recommendation to the practice in relation to consent.

“We found that when Ms C raised concerns about Child A with the practice, they failed to tell her that Child A would need to be assessed in person.

“We upheld this aspect of Ms C’s complaint.

“Finally, we found that the practice’s significant event review of the matters relating to this complaint was of a poor standard and lacked reflection. We made a recommendation to the practice to address this.”

As well as issuing an apology, inspectors ordered the practice to ensure patients are “informed of referrals and given the opportunity to object to any disclosure of information”; and that parents and carers are given information about the need to assess young people prior to referral where appropriate.

A spokesperson for NHS Borders said they were unable to comment on the case as “GP practices are independent contractors”.