GPs demand support for patients hit by recession

Economic downturn leads to rise in visits to GPs.

GPs have called for additional resources for patients struggling to cope with recession-related stress and anxiety.

The demand came after Wales' chief medical officer Dr Tony Jewell wrote to GPs last week with advice on how to cope when anxious and stressed people turn to their GP for help.

GPC Wales chairman Dr David Bailey said the problem is exacerbated in parts of the UK with high levels of poverty. He called for the extension of a scheme in Wales that has seen Citizens' Advice Bureau (CAB) staff placed in GP surgeries.

There is currently one CAB staffer in each of Wales' 22 local health board areas but Dr Bailey believes GPs across the UK could benefit from being able to refer patients to advisers based in nearby surgeries.

'It's undoubtedly true that at times like these people come along with psychological symptoms relating to their social situation,' he said.

'We're seeing more stress-related symptoms, depression, tearfulness and worry, and in less affluent areas, it's exacerbated.'

He said that people anxious about financial problems needed referral to housing and debt advisers rather than conventional treatment.

'People with depressive symptoms often react better to counselling than pharmaceutical treatment, but better than both is just to solve the underlying problem,' Dr Bailey said.

A spokeswoman for the DoH said it was 'understandable' that people would experience stress in the current climate.

The DoH is investing £300 million over the next three years to increase access to 'talking therapies'.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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