GP talking

Increased mental health support in GPs after £2.3bn funding boost

Thousands of new mental health experts will be made available for people visiting their local GP, as the NHS look to combat record demand after the pandemic.

Trained professionals from local NHS Trusts will be on hand to deliver expert advice for people suffering from mental health problems such as bipolar, psychosis, and various eating disorders.

The service will offer patients an appointment up to three times longer than a standard GP appointment and can come in the form a consultation, treatment, peer support, or give a referral.

Two mental health practitioners will be responsible for every group of GP practices in a local area thanks to new NHS funding, meaning up to 2,500 mental health experts will be providing additional support to the nation in a time of dire need.

The introduction and incorporation of these new roles will see primary care and mental health sites work closer together, which will help the health sector deliver more joined-up and efficient care.

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “Giving people convenient care for mental ill health is a lifeline.

“NHS patients and their families know that better access to NHS mental health support in their community, including through their local GP, not only goes with the grain of how people like to seek help, but also helps with common conditions before they escalate into something even more serious or something that can result in a stay in hospital.

“Thousands more mental health experts working as part of family doctor teams, is a major boost for the NHS’ drive to integrate physical and mental health care and will not only mean more people get better care, but crucially will help hard-working GP teams to provide the best possible care for their patients.”

The NHS’ mental health services are treating over a fifth more children than they were this time last year, with demand at an all-time high.

Because of this, an extra £2.3bn of funding is being funnelled into mental health services every year until 2023/24, as the government continue to look to arrest the various deleterious effects the pandemic has had throughout the health industry.

The new roles are in line with the NHS’s aim of allowing approximately 370,000 adults better support and thus a better health outcome, ultimately reducing the likelihood of a referral to a mental health inpatient setting.

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and Medical Director for Primary Care at NHS England said: “As a GP, I have seen first-hand the significant impact of the pandemic on the nation’s mental health, with far more people coming forward for support.

“So, it is fantastic that up to 2,500 more mental health practitioners will be available to work with us, as part of joined up teams in primary care, to offer patients faster access to specialist mental health support through their local General Practice team.

“If you are someone with bipolar disorder, an eating disorder or psychosis and feel you need more support it’s important you know you are not alone and that it is okay to get help.”

Increased mental health support in GP surgeries has already reported improved health outcomes, with the introduction of two mental health professionals in Teesside meaning around 1,600 patients were seen over six months, with more than seven in ten of those recommending it.

More information about the new mental health support is available here.

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NHE May/June 2024

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