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Call for longer GP mental health training

GPs and medical students should get more training to help them understand mental illness concludes a report into the state of care for patients with schizophrenia and psychosis.

The Schizophrenia Commission’s report said some patients with schizophrenia are being offered ‘unacceptable’ care by a ‘broken and demoralised system’ which fails to deliver the quality of treatment they need to recover.

The report – co-authored by RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada - said Health Education England and the GMC should urgently review ways for medical students to spend more continuous time in their psychiatric placements, with greater emphasis placed on mental health, rather than the day a week ‘which is all too common’. It also said GPs needed more training.

In its report, ‘The Abandoned Service’ it  said:  ‘There is a particular need to address gaps in GP and other primary care professionals’ skills in working with people with schizophrenia.’

It strongly supported the RCGP’s campaign to secure agreement for an extra year of GP training, with a key focus on severe mental illness.

The commission was set up by Rethink Mental Illness and heard evidence from several thousand respondents as well as visiting services across England.

Amongst the report’s other  recommendations are  for CCGs to extend the innovative Early Intervention in Psychosis services, which are being cut despite their success.

Dr Gerada said: ‘The NHS for too long has failed to give sufficient priority to meeting the needs of people with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and psychosis.

‘In addressing this we need a shared approach to service delivery between general practitioners, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals working together.’

The Department of Health said: ‘This report highlights important areas for improvement and shows why we have put better treatment for those with mental health problems at the heart of the new Mandate for the NHS.’

Readers' comments (2)

  • I completed research last year and my finding suggest that GP's still struggle to recognise depression and mostly ignore anxiety due to poor mental health knowledge and lack of education.

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  • Jamie Green

    But I am not 100% sure that Anxiety and Depression recognition and management skills would be best picked up in a 2ndry care environment.

    My feeling is that, GPs are dealing with disorders of mental health which are much more subtle.

    Most of what we see is of little or no interest to most psychiatrists.

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