MPs call for more training for GPs to reduce 'unacceptable' suicide rate

GPs and trainees should be given more training in depression and suicide risk, the House of Commons health select committee has said.

The MPs’ committee has called on the government to take tangible actions to implement its own suicide prevention strategy. Committee chair and former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston said the current suicide rate was ‘unacceptable’ and ‘likely to under-represent the true scale of the loss of life’.

‘The clear message we have heard throughout our inquiry is that suicide is preventable,' she said.

In a report published on Thursday, the MPs raised concerns that government funding to support its prevention strategy was insufficient.

Suicide prevention

It said it was disappointed the government had not gone further implementing practical prevention for known vulnerable groups, and called for all patients discharged from inpatient care to receive follow up support within three days.

All undergraduate medical students should be trained in suicide risk assessment, the committee told the GMC. And the RCGP and Health Education England HEE should include depression and suicide assessment in GP training and exams.

The report said existing NICE tools for GP assessment of depression and suicide were too easily unused ‘amidst GPs’ workloads and competing priorities’. GPs and practice nurses should be given adequate, ongoing training, it said.

Dr Wollaston said: ‘If the government wishes to be truly ambitious in reducing the toll of suicide, there are many further steps which it could take, which we have set out in this report. The government must prioritise effective implementation of its strategy because without it, any strategy is of very limited value.’

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