GPs need support to help patients make decisions about care

GPs should be taught how to involve patients who use mental health services in decisions about their care, the DH believes.

Health minister Norman Lamb: people with mental illness will benefit from choice
Health minister Norman Lamb: people with mental illness will benefit from choice

Responding to the patient choice policy consultation Liberating the NHS: No decision about me, without me, the DH said patients who use mental health services would be given more control over their care.

The DH proposed developing training ‘to embed the principles of shared decision-making into the curricula for a wide range of healthcare staff, including nurses, GPs, consultants and NHS managers, as well as for commissioners’.

The RCGP has argued that more patient choice could lead to longer consultation times and that 'articlulate, better educated' patients may benefit most while less literate patients with greater needs lose out.

But the DH response to the consultation argued that changes to the NHS Constitution, to ensure that patients are involved in discussions and decisions about their healthcare, would ensure that all patients benefited from more choice.

It said commissioners would be expected to ‘recognise the benefits of ensuring appropriate information and communication support being made available for those who need it’, and should ‘consider individual needs’ to cut inequalities between patients.

The response also called on GPs and clinical commissioning groups to ‘consider the role of the voluntary sector, especially when they are in a position to offer better-targeted information’.

Health minister Norman Lamb said: ‘If any group of patients could benefit from being empowered by taking control of their own care, it is people with mental illness.

‘By giving patients more choice in their care, we are making sure they get the right type of high quality mental health care at the right time, which suits them and their needs.’

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