Quality framework data ‘unreliable'

Prevalence of mental health problems recorded in the quality framework under-represents the true level by around 10 times, experts said.

This is despite the criteria for including patients on registers being changed for 2006/7.

Previously, patients diagnosed with severe mental health problems were included on registers.

But for 2006/7, practices recorded patients who have had a psychotic episode or bipolar disorder at any point in their life.

Data obtained from QMAS by GP shows this prevalence at 0.72 per cent. But Dr Chris Manning, chief executive of Primary Care Mental Health and Education, said the figure should be between 5 and 10 per cent.

He called for more training for GPs to help them pick up subtle signs of mental illness, but pointed out that large numbers of people with these conditions were not in contact with their GP at all.

‘You can’t rely on the quality framework for prevalence data,’ he said. ‘The numbers will grow when there is a major drive on education and training.’

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