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GP's palliative care plea

GPs and specialists cannot agree over when to refer to community mental health teams because of widespread confusion over guidelines, a new study concludes.

A survey of 212 GPs and 114 psychiatrists found 'enormous variability' in practice and said there was a 'substantial grey area' over referral.

The researchers said community mental health teams were often burdened with inappropriate referrals and called for the royal colleges to thrash out new guidelines.

Their study, published in this month's Psychiatric Bulletin, found 88 per cent of GPs felt it was appropriate to refer patients with personality disorder but only 58 per cent of psychiatrists agreed.

But GPs were less likely than psychiatrists to believe

referral was appropriate for moderate depression and panic or anxiety disorders.

Study leader Dr Prakash Naik, a consultant psychiatrist in Solihull, said: 'Referrals are still coming to mental health teams when they should not.'

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