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Two-thirds of GPs forced to prescribe drugs ‘due to waiting times’

Two-thirds of GPs say they are forced to prescribe medication to patients with depression when they feel talking therapies would be more effective, due to long waiting lists for psychotherapy, a survey reveals.

The survey of 200 GPs, by a health insurer, found 75% said they had to prescribe medication when they felt psychological therapies would be more effective, due to long waiting lists, and four-in-five GPs (84%) said waiting lists were too long for talking therapies.

Aviva’s Health of the Nation report found half of GPs (50%) said their local PCT provides a poor service for patients with mental health issues and over two-thirds (68%) questioned said they felt they didn’t get enough support regarding mental health issues.

RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada said: ‘Waiting times are too long. Two to three weeks should be the absolute maximum. I think if you can get in early with good psychological treatment you can make people better, you can prevent them going off sick or get them back to work much earlier on.’

Mental health charity Mind says one in five patients waited over a year before accessing talking therapies, with one-third waiting more than six months. It has lobbied for a maximum 28-day wait.