Expert panel to help GPs commission mental health services

A panel comprising NHS organisations and charities has been set up to help GPs prepare to take over commissioning mental health services by 2013.

Professor Helen Lester: GPs had great expertise in working with patients with mental health problems
Professor Helen Lester: GPs had great expertise in working with patients with mental health problems

Thirteen organisations, including the RCGP, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the NHS Confederation, and mental health charities Mind and Rethink have have come together to launch the Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health.

A recent survey by charity Rethink found just 31% of GPs felt prepared to commission mental health services, compared with 75% for diabetes and asthma.

The panel aims to help pathfinder consortia, local authorities and PCTs commission mental health services effectively during the transition to GP commissioning with a series of reports and briefings.

Professor Helen Lester, commissioning lead for mental health at the RCGP, and co-chairwoman of the panel, said GPs had great expertise in working with patients with mental health problems. 

'However, commissioning services for mental health will be challenging for many,' she said. 'Producing [the panel's] briefings, and sharing the knowledge and experience within mental health, will be invaluable in ensuring that people have the best possible mental health outcomes.'

The panel's first report, Practical Mental Health Commissioning. Volume One: Setting the Scene is available.

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