GPs and health visitors confused over postnatal depression

The growth of 'corporate' working in health visiting has created confusion between the profession and GPs over who is responsible for detecting and managing postnatal depression, according to UK research.

Interviews with 20 GPs and 14 health visitors across nine PCTs in Bristol, London and Manchester revealed that both groups of health professionals believed the other was responsible, a study in this month's British Journal of General Practice (BJGP) says.

Many of the health visitors interviewed said management of postnatal depression was ‘no longer part of their work' or had fallen down the list of priorities because of child protection obligations, a focus on tackling childhood obesity, and corporate working - with caseloads being jointly managed by a team, rather than an individual.

But the change had created confusion among GPs who were ‘traditionally used to health visitors keeping in touch with and providing support to women'.

RCGP clinical champion for mental health Dr Carolyn Chew-Graham said: ‘Current policy is redirecting the emphasis of health visiting away from the management of postnatal depression.

British Journal of General Practice 2008; 58: 169-176

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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