Four times more GPs than expected contacted the NHS GP Health Service to seek help for mental health and addiction problems in the two weeks following its launch, GPonline can reveal.
Professor Clare Gerada, medical director of the Hurley Group - which runs the service - said that around 90 GPs contacted the service in its first two weeks of operation.
But over 1,000 patients have now registered with the GP Health Service app, most of whom are active patients receiving treatment from the service.
This number also includes patients who signed up to the London-based Practitioner Health Programme, which the Hurley Group has run for the last 10 years.
Former RCGP chair Professor Gerada told GPonline earlier this year that the service was braced for a large intake of patients immediately after launch.
But actual demand for the scheme, which operates on a self-referral only basis, surpassed even these increased expectations.
The GP Health Service opened at the end of January as a dedicated service to support GPs with mental health and addiction problems, and was one of a host of measures announced to help alleviate pressure on general practice outlined in last year's GP Forward View.
Demand is expected to ease off as the system beds down, with the early surge thought to be driven by a cumulative unmet need. Before its introduction, many GPs felt they had nowhere to turn to seek help, feeling that their medical reputation could be at risk if recognised by colleagues or patients at mainstream NHS services.
‘[The] new PHP/GPH booking app now has 1,000 patients using it,’ Lucy Warner, GP Health Service CEO, announced via Twitter. ‘[It’s] great to be able to offer patient choice for appointment time and location to suit busy doctors.’