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GP trainees ‘need better mental health training’

Mental health should be ‘an automatic component' of GP training, with rotations in psychological therapies and child and adolescent mental health services, says a new report.

The report from The Centre for Economic Performance's Mental Health Policy Group called for GPs to receive mental health training which includes hands on experience in areas where mental health services are provided.

The report, called ‘How Mental Illness Loses Out In The NHS', said ‘it makes no sense' that the majority of GPs do no rotation in this field and that although they do not need to learn to administer the therapies themselves, trainees should learn about offering talking therapies as treatment.

GP training should include a rotation in areas where the Government's Improved Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) or Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) schemes are being implemented, it advised.

Lead author Professor Stephen Field, NHS Future Forum chair and a GP in Birmingham said that extra training for GPs is ‘desperately needed' to address the inequality between the care given for physical illness compared to mental.

He said ‘What worries me is that trainee GPs do not get to see concentrated instances of severely mental ill patients or get the chance to learn advance skills like talking therapies.'

He added: ‘Ideally GP training would have been extended to five years but I hope the four years will give GPs the chance to go to mental health clinics with specialists.' 

The RCGP also suggested more mental health training for GPs as part of their extension of GP training announced in April

The report also suggested that the Government should ensure mental health is included in the NHS Outcomes Framework for 2012/13 to ensure that commissioners allocate the appropriate proportion of the budget to mental health services.

Dr Clare Gerada, RCGP chair, said that she welcomed the report, which would help GPs improve treatment of the spiralling problem of mental health.

She said: ‘GPs must have access to a range of talking therapies, from counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy to longer term psychotherapies, for the wide range of conditions that we see in our consulting rooms.'

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