The number of patients needing help with their mental health is increasing. Closer working with mental health teams can reduce the pressure on GPs, and sharing medical records and diaries can make it easy to integrate these services.
Mental health problems are a growing public health concern:
- One-quarter of the UK population experiences a mental health problem each year1.
- Two-thirds of GPs reported an increase in patients needing help with their mental health1.
- Forty per cent of GP appointments now involve a mental health problem2.
At the same time, there is a shortage of GPs, and their workload isn't sustainable.
Therapists at GP practices
NHS England is encouraging doctors to place mental health therapists within GP practices. These therapists will be full members of the primary care team. They'll concentrate on common disorders such as anxiety and depression. How will this help?
- It will be easier for patients to receive mental health treatment. They won't need to travel as far, and receiving treatment at the GP surgery will reduce the stigma attached to mental health for some patients.
- Receptionists can use their practice IT system to book appointments with the mental health therapists
- Therapists can add details of their encounters into the patient records. Doctors will be able to see how patients are getting on and will have information about physical and mental health in one place.
Centralised mental health services
A cluster of GP practices in South Wales is taking this a step further. They recognised that if patients had better access to mental health services, pressure on GPs would reduce. The cluster opened a primary care hub and employed a mental health therapist. The cluster uses Vision 360 to share patient records with the therapist and manage appointments.
Receptionists at all the cluster practices have real-time access to the therapist's diary. They can book 30-45 minute appointments for their patients at any time and from any place.
During consultations, the therapist can access the patient’s record and add notes about their interventions. Any information they add is available to the patient's GP.
Centralising mental health services creates many benefits for the local GP practices:
- reduced DNA rates because patients don't travel as far
- it frees up GPs' time to do more consultations
- patients see a specialist mental health therapist
A more integrated approach to physical and mental health treatment improves care and reduces pressure on the NHS. It's also an excellent opportunity to embrace record sharing to enable collaborative care. Take a look at our infographic to see how Vision's record sharing works.
1 Key facts and statistics on mental health problems and issues from Mind.
2 The Independent, 7 June 2018