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GPs should give longer consultations to mental health patients, says RCGP

GPs should have more time for consultations with patients with mental health problems under new proposals put forward by the RCGP in collaboration with the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

The two colleges have said that more must be done to improve the physical health of patients with mental health problems, and have laid out their plans for achieving parity of esteem with physical health.

Amongst the proposals being put forward are calls for improving continuity of care so patients can see the same GPs if they wish, and better coordination of care between GPs, psychiatrists and other health professionals.

The colleges have made joint ‘pledges’ to share examples of good mental health care and will focus on supporting people with serious mental health issues in key areas like smoking cessation and emphasising the need for regular physical health screening.

They have also pledged to review shared care the training and prescribing for psychotropic medicines in conjunction with the College for Mental Health Pharmacy and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

NHS England has recently urged GPs to use new tools to evaluate physical health in patients with mental health issues, after a recent survey showed that half of GPs hadn’t had any mental health training in the past 12 months.

And Pulse recently revealed how cuts to child mental health services were heaping pressure on GPs.

The colleges’ statement says: ‘People with serious mental health problems die on average 15-20 years earlier than the rest of the population, with over 33,000 dying prematurely every year.

‘Reversing this situation will require a bold new approach – one which breaks down the boundaries between physical and mental health services in the community and offers patients with serious mental illness a package of care that is planned around their needs.’

It also stresses that it is ‘vital’ that funding for general practice and community mental health services is rebalanced to support the integration of mental and physical health services.

Readers' comments (8)

  • RCGP should fund GPs more money for longer consultations, says a grassroot GP

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  • Bob Hodges

    Someone with an opinion on what GPs should do more of without saying what we should do correspondingly LESS of of??

    That's never happened before.

    They should try coming out with this whilst looking smug on the sofa on BBC Breakfast next time.

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  • Patently obvious that you can't deal with mental health problems properly in a ten minute consult, let alone begin to deal with the physical issues well.

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  • Most GPs already know this and spend longer with these patients because they care about them - even though not sufficiently funded

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  • Vinci Ho

    While this 'joint' pledges are politically correct(just tell me my mother is a woman, for instance), this should be part of the game plan to put more and more pressure on NHSE and DoH to provide more resources(time, manpower and money, just ask GP to use a tool is totally irresponsible). Merely saying GPs should do more without fighting this political battle is betraying all of us........

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  • I stopped paying my RCGP subs a long time ago
    College has zero concept of what happens and is achievable at the coal face

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  • Also frail elderly, asthma,IHD,diabetes,COPD,heart failure,AF,stroke,depression,anxiety,smoking ,alcoholism,drug abuse to name a few. Wise up RCGP. No wonder GPS are all leaving with these guys as their leaders.

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  • Mental health care providers, the psychiatrist decides when he / she wants to see the patient, in general medicine, the GP will see the patient on request, so mental health patients often get a better service via their GP. Some GP's may not be fully versed in the mental health problems but when the patient needs helps and support, they can always count on their GP who do make extra time available. GP's make time to talk, psychiatrist only issue prescriptions!

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