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17th February 2016

Improving Mental Health Support for GPs

Some Alarming Facts

We know how important it is to take care of ourselves to get the most from life to maintain our mental health . Sadly there are thousands of people who just can’t cope with the stresses of life, including GPs. The Mental Health Foundation has some alarming facts:

  • 10% of children and young people have a mental health problem.
  • Mental health problems are the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK.
  • The experiences resulting from having a learning disability increases the likelihood of having a mental health problem.
  • The socioeconomically disadvantaged are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop mental health.
  • The total cost of dementia to the UK is a staggering £26.3 billion.

The Mental Health Foundation has been pioneering change for more than 60 years and is keen to tackle difficult or under researched issues, which is why it’s welcomed that NHS England want to appoint providers that can deliver a service to improve GPs’ access to mental health support.

Access to mental health support for GPs

Increasing pressures in general practice are one of the reasons why GPs leave the profession. Currently, occupational health services are available across England but there are varying degrees of follow-up services and these sometimes don’t provide options of treatment for mental health related problems. This is ironic considering the services that GPs are required to offer and refer  their own patients. Improving GPs’ access to mental health support needs to go beyond the specification of OH services, with such services being referred to as Practitioner Health or Physician Health services.

How to offer this service

Providers wishing to offer this service can do so by accessing the Arden GEM BravoSolution CSU Procurement Portal. Providers must complete a copy of the market assessment questionnaire by 24 February 2016 which is purely an exercise to gather facts on potential providers. The subsequent procurement will be advertised separately and all organisations who wish to participate will need to respond to the procurement advertisement as and when published.

Much needed and welcome support

NHS England is currently delivering several initiatives to support General Practice including Supporting Vulnerable Practices, the Workforce Action Plan, the Primary Care Transformation Fund, and a new national Occupational Health (OH) Specification which will be published soon. It’s reassuring that it has been officially recognised by NHS England that support for the health and wellbeing of GPs and their staff is essential because it can have a significant impact when practices find themselves vulnerable and in difficulty. This in turn will hopefully enable practices to successfully recruit and retain valuable GP’s who can then evidence they providing their patients with a safe, caring, effective, responsive and well-led service.

Alison Lowerson – QCS Expert GP Practice Manager Contributor

Topics: GPs

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