NICE calls for supervision of GPs treating depression

GPs should be audited for competence when treating patients with depression, according to the latest NICE quality standards.

Practitioners treating adults with depression should be ‘regularly supervised’ to ensure they are competent to deliver appropriate interventions in accordance with NICE guidance.

Performance under the standard will be measured by the proportion of practitioners in each area - potentially a PCT or GP consortium - that receive supervision, which includes a review and reflection on practice applicable to the setting.

The guidance could lead to GP consortia vetting the performance of their member practices.

The standard for depression in adults follows two others – diabetes in adults and glaucoma – published on Thursday.

The new standards join five standards already published. The institute is aiming to complete 150 of the standards in total over the next few years.

Quality standards are designed to be best practice guides that describe an ideal clinical pathway, supported by the latest evidence and existing NICE guidance.

They will be used to produce targets in the NHS Commissioning Outcomes Framework, which will be used to hold GP consortia to account and to help determine whether they earn a 'quality premium' payment.

Dr Fergus Macbeth, director of the centre for clinical practice at NICE said: ‘We are very pleased to be publishing this next tranche of quality standards, and we are confident they will help local NHS healthcare professionals to provide the best care possible to their patients.’

The standard for depression is defined by 13 statements for high quality care. They also include ensuring a assessment for people suspected of having depression, and a review of those on a treatment plan within 6-8 weeks.

The diabetes standard includes providing personalised advice on nutrition and physical activity as part of a structured education programme.

People with diabetes should also be assessed annually for risk and presence of complications, which should be managed appropriately.

The glaucoma standard includes that people diagnosed with chronic open angle glaucoma (COAG)7 suspected COAG or with ocular hypertension (OHT)8 are monitored at intervals according to their risk of progressive loss of vision in accordance with NICE guidance.

Anna Morton, director of NHS Diabetes, said: ‘Diabetes is such a major public health problem, it is important that there are clear standards in place that will help those involved in the care of people with this serious condition.

‘I am sure the standard will be welcomed by both patients and healthcare professionals alike.’

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