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Two-thirds of GPs ‘not ready’ to commission mental health

Just one GP in three feels equipped to take on commissioning responsibility for mental health.

Out of 251 GPs surveyed by Rethink, just 31% said they felt equipped to take on the role for mental health.

In the same survey, three-quarters of GPs said they could take on responsibility for diabetes and asthma.

Paul Jenkins, chief executive of Rethink, said: ‘We often hear from people with mental illness, that GPs don’t understand mental health and want to refer them quickly to specialists. Now GPs themselves are telling us they have concerns.’

The white paper proposes GPs be given budgets for the great majority of NHS services, including mental health and most community services. Dentistry, community pharmacy and primary ophthalmic services will be commissioned by the NHS Commissioning Board.

PBC tsar Dr James Kingsland questioned the survey’s findings, arguing many GPs had misunderstood what their commissioning role would require.

‘If they understood it as “do you want to get into contract discussions and analysing performance”, that’s different from “would you like to commission mental health services differently and get the amount you spend on outpatient appointments to have direct access to a psychologist, two in-house counsellors and a visiting consultant”.’

Dr James Kingsland: GPs may not realise what the role entails Dr James Kingsland: GPs may not realise what the role entails