MENTAL health care will be a major priority at the NHS-run GP office in Sauchie, with the installation of dedicated nursing staff.

A number of healthcare professionals have been recruited to work at Hallpark Medical Practice following a recruitment drive by NHS Forth Valley.

The health board took over responsibility for the practice in May 2018 after the previous team of GPs left or retired.

Since then, two permanent GPs are now based at the practice, supported by a number of locum staff, and there are plans to recruit additional doctors.

Two advanced nurse practitioners, a physiotherapist and additional pharmacy staff have also been recruited.

And, in addition, a mental health nurse will also be based at the centre to allow more time for patients to discuss their care and treatment.

A significant number of visits to GP practices are linked to mental health issues and the nurse will also be able to provide advice on how people can improve their physical and mental health, review medication and offer psychological support.

Julia Ferrari, NHS Forth Valley's integrated mental health team manager, said: "This new service does not take away from what a GP can offer, but provides a supportive role to the doctors.

"A significant proportion of repeat visits to surgeries are linked to common mental health issues such as anxiety and stress so having mental health nurses based in a practice gives GPs more time to focus on patients with perhaps more complicated mental and physical health issues."

The appointment of additional healthcare professionals will increase access to a wider range of services and support at the practice, which is based in Clackmannanshire Community Healthcare Centre.

The Practice based physiotherapist will be able to provide advice and treatment for patients with a wide range of back and joint problems

Following a detailed assessment, they can provide information, advice and exercises to help patients manage their condition or refer to orthopaedics, pain or rheumatology clinics.

They are also able to arrange further investigations such as X-rays and blood tests and carry out steroid joint injections.

Stuart Cumming, associate medical director for primary care in NHS Forth Valley, said: "We have been working very hard to put in place a new workforce for the practice and have managed to successfully recruit a number of GPs and other healthcare professionals.

"This is significant progress given the current difficulties in recruiting GPs across the UK.

"We appreciate that the changes at the practice earlier this year may have caused uncertainty; however, we hope that the recruitment of a new team will provide greater security and stability for local patients and their families."

NHS Forth Valley plans to recruit more than 200 additional health professionals to support local GP practices across Forth Valley as part of a new three-year Primary Care Improvement Plan.