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GPs go forth

Government plans 'minimum standard' for GP mental health training

Exclusive The Government is working with the RCGP to introduce mandatory mental health minimum standard training for all new GPs.

The news, revealed in the second annual report on the Coalition Government’s suicide prevention programme, comes one year after the RCGP said additional mental health training should form part of plans to extend GP training to four, rather than three years.

At the time, the college said this could include GPs training alongside psychiatrists to increase understanding of illnesses.

In the report, the Government said it has set up a taskforce to identify and recommend updates to the GP training programme amid research showing that primary care patients who committed suicide were often frequent attenders.

The Government’s report said: ‘Suicide among primary care patients is linked to frequent GP attendance, increasing attendance, and also non-attendance, the latter being associated with young and middle-aged men.’

It added: ‘NHS England has established a task and finish group with the Royal College of GPs mental health strategy group, whose goal is to identify and recommend mandatory mental health minimum standard training for all of primary care.’

The news, which follows a recommendation by the Government’s chief medical offier last year, was trailed by health minister Norman Lamb at a conference on psychological therapies last week.

As part of a speech and questions session, Mr Lamb said he he believed all GPs needed core training in mental health, and that while some GPs ‘totally get it’ others ‘come out with rubbish’.

The chief medical officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, said in her annual report on public mental health in September that all GP trainees should have a period of specific mental health training as part of their core training.

Professor Clare Gerada, medical director of the NHS Practitioner Health Programme, the former chair of RCGP and a mental health campaigner, has called for years for GP training to be extended to make time for more prepation on dealing with mental illness.

She told Pulse: ‘Doctors haven’t yet taken up the four-year training programme because proper resources have not been found and that is doing a disservice to patients. Most doctors do not study psychiatry but around 40% of everything we do is around mental health.’

The Government’s suicide prevention reported coincided with an Office of National Statistics Bulletin, also published yesterday (19 February), which revealed an increase in the number of suicides recorded in the UK.

A total of 6,233 suicides of people aged 15 and over were registered in the UK in 2013, according to the ONS. The male suicide rate, which was the highest since 2001, was more than three times higher than the female rate, with 19 male deaths per 100,000 compared to 5.1 female deaths.

Readers' comments (21)

  • good plan

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  • How dare Mr Lamb slander GPs with such non evidence based statements!
    I demand an immediate apology on behalf of all GPs and an official statement of apology.
    Clearly this statement was not made in the house of commons so is NOT subject to parlimentary priviledge and therefore subject to the full force of the law.

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  • I think the economic downturn and the con/libdem policies of looking after the super wealthy but leaving the poor to suffer have more to do with increased suicide rates than what GPs do. These wider determinants of health make more difference to health, especially mental health, than what is done in primary care. Not to mention the reductions most areas have seen in mental health funding - and the looming catastrophe that the lack of adequate services for young people with mental health problems will cause. Norman Lamb should be looking at himself and his colleagues in Government who are accountable for this.

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  • Dear Govt person

    good lucking finding more GPs

    Sincerely yours,

    GP about to emigrate.

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  • it's not understanding that is the problem - we pick up cases of mental illnesses early on but access to support services is poor - often patients are waiting weeks or months. unsurprisingly we resort to medication or a crisis point is reached and referral to crisis team is needed. we encourage self-referral and on-line self-help to save patients time but at the end of the day there is no point diagnosing if there is no access to treatment. I'm going to suggest patients complain to Norman Lamb and ask him about the access to mental health.

    this smacks of pushing more labour intensive work onto GPs - we just don't have the time to see everyone and do everything.

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  • This lamb is best slaughtered by a lunatic. Has made no sense from day 1.

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  • is this instead of concentrating on ....lets see.....diabetes? heart disease? stroke? Respiratory illness? womens health? paeds in general? what do we give up or spend less time on to be able to spend time doing this. how about no more mandatory child protection? anyone listening??? thought not

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  • "mandatory training"
    Is this for new GP trainees? If so, in a three year training, which might appear to be designed to fill service gaps in secondary care, will some other possibly equally vital field - paediatrics, geriatrics, obs & Gynae - be removed?
    Mandating this just for trainees will ensure that the effects are not felt for at least three years (when the new GPs enter general practice) and not be fully implemented for a minimum of another 30 years.
    If, on the other hand, *all* GPs will have to have mandatory training, what are the plans to implement this, how will it be funded, and what will both the trainees (GPs delivering patient care) and trainers (psychiatrists already over-burdened with patient care) be allowed to stop doing to free up the time for the training?

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  • There should be training courses available already.....

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  • T Roscoe

    I responded on the Times website to an article based on this bollox. They really are trying to implode Priamry Care.

    So sad

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