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Cameron points finger at GPs over lack of mental health provision

Prime Minister David Cameron has deflected criticism about the lack of mental health care provision in the NHS onto GPs, who he claimed are not treating people for mental health conditions or referring them for ‘increasingly available’ CBT.

The comments came during yesterday’s PMQs in response to a question about the lack of mental health beds put by newly elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, in his new-style approach in which he drew on questions suggested by the public.

Mr Corbyn asked the Prime Minister to respond to ‘Angela, who is a mental health professional’, who said the lack of beds meant ‘people suffering serious mental health crises are either left without adequate care or alternatively admitted to facilities many miles away from their homes, relatives and family support systems’.  

In response, Mr Cameron said that ‘we need to more as a country’ tackle mental health problems and that this required not only investment that the Government had already committed, but changes in the health service. He singled out GPs as a key barrier to better care.

The Prime Minister said: ‘The right honorable gentleman rightly talks about mental health beds, and they are important, but frankly so is the service that people get when they visit their GP. Many people going into their GP surgeries have mental health conditions, but they are not treated for those conditions and do not get access to, for instance, the cognitive behavioural therapies that are increasingly being made available.’

He added: ‘So my argument is, yes, put in the resources, change the way the NHS works and change public attitudes to mental health – that is vital – but I say again that we will not be able to do any of those things without the strong economy that we have built over these last five years.’

The comments come after NICE advisers recommended GPs should be given a new target in the QOF for referring people for psychological therapy within three months of a diagnosis of anxiety or depression, to try to increase referrals.

GPs have themselves warned that long waiting times for mental health services are leading to patient harm, while there are concerns that lack of access to psychological therapies has forced them into increased prescribing of antidepressants.

A Nuffield Trust study showed that GP prescribing of antidepressants had risen markedly since the glocal economic crisis hit, while another study provided further evidence that depression rose markedly as a consequence of the financial crash.

Readers' comments (60)

  • Staggering outrageous nonsense from a grossly misinformed PM. Who on earth told him this... I really think the GP body wants to know who originated this gushy sting and wholly untrue allegation
    Most GPs have been agitating for beefing up counselling services for decades
    This comment makes me feel physically sick and is a libel on the GP body
    I await vigorous correction from GPC please and an apology

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  • Delusional fool,we do deal with lots and lots of mental health.But when we want to access CBT it take 4 months even if you can get an appointment.When we refer to mental health services for people who are really unwell they are next to non existent,with no beds and no capacity.Any body who beleives we have any control of services and beleives this man need sectioning!

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  • CORRECTION
    Above gushy sting should read disgusting
    Though on reflection the original sounds better!

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  • thanks for that, Dave

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  • Vinci Ho

    Ha ha ha
    Darth Vader already revealed how 'knowledgeable' he is about running the health service . Interesting questions from JC leading to this laughable answers . Hail CBT, it can solve all mental problems .
    Folks , send in your comments, anonymous or not , all welcome .

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  • must be our fault, why would we want to refer anyone for CBT when we could see them repeatedly and foist useless drugs upon them.
    Waiting times, we see todays work today or 3w if patient wants to book their own routine appt. Local 1;1 CBt about 9 months.
    Time to get a clear and honest answer from agent Hunt, infinite

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  • Jeez, you GPs still just don't get it do you? It was a deliberate insult by Camoron. It's not due to being poorly informed.

    Why can't you understand this Govt wants rid of independent practices owned by partners, and to sell it off to their rich chums in United health, Virgin etc. It doesn't think the voters will accept that so it is manufacturing a crisis in general practice until things are so bad that the public demands the Govt do something to solve it, and hey presto the Govt announces contracts with UH etc to solve the problem caused by lazy greedy GPs.

    The GPC will do nothing, why do you think the Govt gave Chaand a CBE? For being a pest to the Govt or being a good boy?

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  • Vinci Ho

    I might be wrong. But I have an extraordinary feeling that Darth Vader had just met his nemesis in PMQ. Can JC become Obi Wan Kenobi( the original old character in Star Wars: A New Hope, episode IV) ?????

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  • We should refer everyone for counselling.

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  • Just waiting for Maureen to warmly welcome the PM's comments ...

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