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Hewitt criticises GP depression care

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has claimed GPs are at least partly to blame for the crisis

in access to depression services.

In a letter to fellow minister Hilary Benn about Pulse's campaign on depression care, she said GPs were clogging up the system by making inappropriate referrals.

Mrs Hewitt admitted access to psychological therapies could be 'problematic', but added: 'In addition, referrers sometimes lack knowledge about which treatments are appropriate.'

The Department of Health was unable to provide evidence of inappropriate GP referrals to back up Mrs Hewitt's assertion.

But a spokeswoman said appropriateness would be one of a number of issues to be examined by two demonstration sites on depression treatment, to be formally launched this week.

The pilots, in Doncaster and Newham, will test a series of treatment models for possible national implementation.

Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs and a GP in New Forest, Hampshire, said: 'It is not that we are referring

to the wrong people ­ for

most people there is nothing to refer to.'

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