Teams of hospital mental health professionals are being parachuted into primary care to support soaring demand for support for mental health conditions such as bipolar, psychosis and eating disorders.
NHS England has said “thousands” of mental health experts are being sent out to local GP practice amid record demand for services.
The NHS is providing funding for two mental health practitioners for every group of GP practices in a local area, meaning up to 2,500 mental health experts will be providing additional support, it added.
The mental health professionals are also offering access to a consultation, treatment, peer support, or a referral to hospital teams without needing a GP appointment.
Introduction of the new roles will see primary care and mental health trusts working together to offer one single service to patients, so freeing family doctors to focus on routine care, NHS England added.
Almost 500 mental health practitioners, including community psychiatric nurses, clinical psychologists and mental health occupational therapists, are already working in GP surgeries across England, it added.
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “Giving people convenient care for mental ill health is a lifeline. Thousands more mental health experts working as part of family doctor teams, is a major boost for the NHS’ drive to integrate physical and mental health care and will not only mean more people get better care, but crucially will help hard-working GP teams to provide the best possible care for their patients.”
Separately, NHS England has said its ‘one stop shop’ community diagnostic centres (CDCs) have now delivered more than a million checks and tests since being rolled out, as the NHS continues to try to catch-up following the pandemic.
More than 90 CDCs are now offering MRI, CT and other services closer to patients’ homes, often in the heart of local communities.
The NHS is committed to rolling out a network of up to 160 centres across the country, boosting testing capacity so around nine million additional tests and checks can be performed each year by 2025.