Some of the practice-based mental health therapists, pledged in the GP Forward View, will be recruited from secondary care, NHS England has said.
The GPFV had pledged there would be ‘3,000 new fully funded practice-based mental health therapists’. NHS England has told Pulse some current therapists, already working in NHS secondary care settings, are receiving training to shift to become GP practice-based.
NHS England said it was not currently clear what proportion of the 3,000 therapists would be retrained, as this would depend on the number of new recruits it was able to source.
It added that it has committed to training ‘up to 4,500’ mental health therapists by 2021 for the wider Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) scheme, to compensate for the shift in workforce to primary care.
RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said the pledge of more mental health therapists was ‘an essential part of the plan’.
She added: ‘It is vital that therapists are properly integrated with general practice and accessible to GPs if the programme is to ease the pressure on general practice caused by common mental health problems.
‘Mental health care is a significant part of a GP’s work – and as we strive for parity of esteem between mental and physical health across society, it’s important that we have access to services in the community that will benefit our patients with mental health conditions.’
An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘Integrating mental and physical health care is a top priority for the NHS.
‘The Five Year Forward View set out in detail the NHS funded plans to recruit up to 4,500 new mental health therapists, with 3,000 extra mental health therapists then deployed in primary care settings by 2021.’
Pulse revealed earlier this year that the vast majority of the pledged therapists will not be working in GP practices at all.
Instead, all 3,000 are linked to an already-announced expansion of the IAPT scheme to cover people with long-term conditions.
As such, the therapists will not be employed directly by GPs and only some of the new practitioners will work in practices.
But NHS England bosses insisted at the time that this was not a ‘broken promise’ as the therapists will be part of ‘primary care teams’.
Please note: this article was amended at 11:45am on Monday 27 November. NHS England has clarified that the therapists recruited from secondary care will be replaced and the story has been changed accordingly