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RCGP chair: Every practice should have a mental health worker



RCGP chair Professor Maureen Baker says that she is urging NHS bosses to look at providing mental health workers in every GP practice.

Dr Baker had listed a range of measures the RCGP wanted to see to support general practice in a speech at the Special LMCs Conference, including mental health workers based in practices for ‘real time referrals and support.’

It comes as the lead of the NHS’s mental health taskforce said that psychological therapies could be provided in general practice, especially for patients with chronic conditions.

Professor Baker said that GPs wanted ‘to see the cavalry arriving now’ and gave a list of new intiatives that could be used to take the pressure off practices.

She said: ‘We believe measures such as these – backed by significant resources – are the absolute minimum requirement to give us our first steps down the right road.’

NHS England’s director of mental health Karen Turner said today that it was working with the RCGP to increase the treatment of comorbid depression and anxiety in patients with long-term conditions within primary care.

She also said that the independent Mental Health Taskforce report is likely to recommend boosting access to psychological therapies over the next five years to enable 25% of eligible patients to access treatment, from the current 15% target.

Ms Turner, speaking at the Psychological Therapies in the NHS conference in London, said plans for increasing mental health provision in general practice are due to be launched jointly by the RCGP and NHS England.

She said the plans ‘may involve therapists being integrated within practices – absolutely, particularly for people with long-term conditions.

Ms Turner added: ‘GPs who have had access to therapists in or across a group of practices have told me that it has made a huge difference– not only in seeing patients but in supporting them with it, they don’t necessarily take the work off the GP but provide that support.’

The plans being developed will be parallel to the independent Mental Health Taskforce, headed up by Mind chief executive Paul Farmer, which has been widely trailed since the Prime Minister announced almost £1bn extra investment for mental health services over the next five years.

David Cameron pledged an extra £600m for talking therapies as part of this extra investment.

Ms Turner said it was ‘likely’ that the taskforce will recommend ‘increasing access to psychological therapies to 25%’ of people affected – from the current target of 15%.

She told Pulse that although some areas were still not able to offer this level of access, ‘overall we’re at 15% now, which we need to be at by March, but we’ve got five years to reach 25%, so it’s an ambitious target’.

The taskforce ‘will talk about the importance of primary care but not going into detail on what GPs need’, she added.

What is the RCGP recommending? 

PHQ 9 form depression assessment SQUARE  PPL

PHQ 9 form depression assessment SQUARE PPL

PHQ 9 form depression assessment SQUARE PPL

  • A new return to nursing scheme to support those who’ve left the workforce to enter general practice, giving us a new cadre of at least 500 new practice nurses over the next year
  • Real action on medical indemnity, which is now completely out of control.
  • Grants to help practices upgrade their IT infrastructure
  • Mental health workers based in practices for real time referrals and support
  • More investment in our underfunded and undervalued GP out of hours service

Read the full speech here