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Fewer than half of GPs are training in mental health setting

Fewer than half of GP trainees have undertaken a mental health training placement, an investigation has shown.

Mental health charity Mind is concerned about figures it found via an FOI request to Health Education England and the Welsh Deanery, which revealed that only 46% of GP trainees chose a mental health-related training placement.

It also found that the only mental health-related training option offered to trainee GPs was in hospital-based psychiatry and focused on secondary care, rather than primary care settings.

This comes as 81% of people with mental health problems first come into contact with mental health services through their GP, with 90% of people receiving mental health treatment exclusively in primary care settings, the charity pointed out.

The report also says that although GPs are required to undertake ongoing CPD, none of the hours need to have a mental health component.

But RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said mental health is ’a key component of the RCGP training curriculum that all GP trainees must follow and demonstrate their competence in before they can practise independently as family doctors in the UK’.

She added: ’We have been making the case for some time that specialist GP training should be extended from three to four years in order to focus more time on mental health, and child health, reflecting the changing GP caseload and the increasing number of patients who are presenting with mental health issues.

’We hope that today’s call from Mind will help strengthen our case.’

Readers' comments (6)

  • MIND really need to focus their lobbying work on real issues.

    They lose credibility with these press releases

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  • I don't understand this 'It also found that the only mental health-related training option offered to trainee GPs was in hospital-based psychiatry and focused on secondary care, rather than primary care settings' - surely the year and a half of primary care minimum in any training programme involves exposure to primary care mental health conditions/management? The curriculum, exam, and teaching has a massive emphasis on mental health - MIND don't really seem to have a good enough grasp on GP training to be making recommendations.

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  • Next week Maureen speaks to podiatric health charity Verruca.

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  • And some trainees don't do a paediatric job and some don't do a gynaecology job and some don't do a palliative care job and some don't do an ED job.

    Why do all these people think their empire is the most important? We are generalists - we learn most of what we do within the general practice setting where we spend 18 months in training.

    Of course GP Training should be at least 4 years but this should not be more time in hospital settings or even community psychiatry settings (where the supervision can be challenging sometimes) It should be in the general practice setting with time spent in a variety of external settings. But of course, that is too expensive and very little service commitment comes from that.

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  • Hi Maureen, the most relevant is GENERAL PRACTICE training. You cannot and should not do all the specialties wasting precious time. GPs in the uk are one of the best in the world. We do not need non clinicians with less clinical experience telling us what to do.

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  • I didn't do a specialist mental health post 25 years ago. But would it have helped? the local psychiatric team don't see my patients with depression, anxiety, low mood, and anyone doing a job with them would get little experience relevant to mental health in the community.
    I totally agree with everyone who has said that any expansion in time to train as a GP should be spent in primary care

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