Today the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England announced a new GP access recovery plan.
The plan will provide extra training to 'care navigators’ answering calls at GP practices, so those who would be better seen by other staff such as physiotherapists or mental health specialists are able to bypass their GP.
In response to the announcement Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists said:
“Training ‘care navigators’ to redirect patients to other specialists, such as mental health practitioners, within primary care networks could help some patients be seen quicker. Early treatment for mental illness means better outcomes for patients and less pressure on beds and in A&E.
“Whilst we welcome today's announcements, patients will not receive the care they need if there is not an adequate mental health workforce in place to support them. According to recent data, for example, only 62% of primary care networks have a mental health practitioner in post.
“Over the last year we have seen record referrals for mental health treatment, and services are already critically overstretched. That is why it is vital the Government urgently publish the promised workforce plan.
“Many had expected to see the plan by now. The plan should be inclusive of promised forecasts to track progress, tackle critical areas of retention and recruitment and be accompanied by a multi-year settlement for workforce training and education.”