Almost 1,200 GPs receiving help from specialist NHS mental health service

Almost 1,200 GPs are currently receiving support for mental health issues including burnout, stress and addiction from a specialist NHS service set up to support under-pressure primary care doctors.

PHP medical director Professor Clare Gerada (Photo: Alex Deverill)
PHP medical director Professor Clare Gerada (Photo: Alex Deverill)

Figures from the GP Health Service show that at the end of the first quarter of the 2018/19 financial year, its caseload totalled 1,188 patients, GPonline can reveal.

Over this three-month period the rate of new patient registrations rose slightly compared with the previous 18 months - with 61 a month in April to June 2018 compared with 56 new patients a month on average from October 2016 to March 2017.

Three quarters of new registrations are women, and trainees now make up 29% of cases. The vast majority of new registrations (96%) have no regulatory involvement, with 69% of doctors working at the time of registration with the GP Health Service.

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Just over a quarter are on sick leave, and one in 20 of the service's patients are currently unemployed, although figures provided by the service show that by the end of the first quarter of 2018/19 '73% of patients who had not been working at registration had returned to work'.

GPonline reported earlier this year that more than 1,100 GPs had sought help from the GP Health Service in its first year, and that more than 800 had stayed in work.

NHS Practitioner Health Programme chief executive Lucy Warner said: 'We have done a huge amount of promotion in the last 18 months, and a recent RCGP survey indicated that 56% of GPs asked had heard of the service.

'But there will always be some who have not heard, who may need to know. We are happy to supply cards and leaflets or to speak at events as asked.

High demand

'The demand for the service remains high - in previous years we have seen a dip in the summer months but that hasn’t happened this year. We don’t know why, except to say that there is a lot of distress in the system and ultimately that impacts on those trying to deliver care.'

Over the first 18 months after opening its doors in October 2016, the service registered a total of 1,271 GPs as patients.

Some 259 transferred from existing services run by the Practitioner Health Programme (PHP) - a 'confidential NHS treatment service' that has been helping doctors since it was set up by former RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada in 2008. PHP also runs the GP Health Service.

More than 1,000 new GPs also came forward to seek help in the first 18 months after the GP Health Service launched.

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