A CASE for change around key Wee County health issues was made this month when a cabinet secretary was welcomed to Alloa.

Neil Gray – the minister for NHS recovery, health and social care – was welcomed to charity Reachout with Arts in Mind to meet with Clacks health organisations and third sector leaders.

The visit was organised by the Third Sector Interface (TSI) Scotland Network with representatives from Clackmannanshire Third Sector Interface (CTSI) and Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise (SVE) also in attendance.

The cabinet secretary was keen to hear issues close to the heart of the community, covering discussion points around dementia, mental health, alcohol and drugs.

Anthea Coulter, chief officer at CTSI, was among those discussing some of the community solutions that could be investigated as part of reforming the NHS.

She said: “The cabinet secretary was interested and keen to learn about community-focussed options and how our community anchor organisations, with the right investment, could help with people coming out of hospital and preventing them going back in; improving alcohol and drugs support in communities for people; and new ways to manage the dementia pathways and how money could be refocused.

“It is not about more money for services, it is about spending money in the right parts of the system and at the moment it is locked into crisis care and not looking at how we can do more to prevent, divert and avert people from going into hospital in the first place.”

Anthea was joined by Natalie Masterson, chief executive at SVE, and Lesley Arthur, manager at Reachout.

Helen Duncan, manager at Town Break which supports people with dementia and their carers, Narek Bido, manager of Recovery Scotland and Norma Howarth, locality manager for Change, Grow, Learn were also in attendance.

In a statement to the Advertiser, Mr Gray said: “It was wonderful to visit Reachout with Arts in Mind in Alloa to see the valuable role of third sector community groups working together to support health and wellbeing.

“This is a great example of how we are supporting NHS and social care recovery through the Scottish Government’s £15 million Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund for Adults.”

Anthea welcomed the breadth of issues discussed and the open, shared learning from all sides.

She added: “He [Mr Gray] really wants to see how the vision for a Scotland that leads on a wellbeing economy can be achieved and incorporate new structures where the third sector has an equal and valued relationship with the NHS and our health and social care partners.

“It was a welcome meeting and one that we are grateful to the cabinet secretary for making happen.”