Nurses to support GPs with mental health and addiction issues

A new service has been launched to help GPs affected by mental health and addication issues.

A new service has been launched to help GPs affected by mental health and addiction issues.

Calls for greater support for GPs has led to the creation of the NHS GP Health Service. Picture: iStock

The £20 million NHS GP Health Service will allow GPs in England to access free, confidential therapy and treatment from specialist mental health and addiction nurses, as well as psychiatrists and other clinicians.

The service will take self-referrals and be provided through a regional network of clinicians and therapists across 13 areas in England, who will deliver support for a range of conditions, including:

  • Common and more complex mental health conditions.
  • Mental health conditions relating to physical health.
  • Substance misuse including support for community detoxification.
  • Rehabilitation and support to return to work after a period of mental ill-health.

The service is only open to GPs and trainee GPs.

NHS England told Nursing Standard that nurses would receive treatment in the same way as a member of the public, and that for GPs there can be issues around confidentiality and being treated by a fellow clinician who may know them, hence the need for a more specialist service.

Help on offer

The service has been developed by NHS England and others, including the British Medical Association’s general practitioner committee, Health Education England, the Royal College of General Practitioners and the General Medical Council (GMC) in response to calls for greater support among the profession.

NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh said: ‘Being a GP is tough. It requires a deep knowledge of medicine, an ability to separate the serious from the trivial, coupled with compassion. As the number and complexity of consultations grows, so does the stress of the job. This takes its toll. Both sickness and early retirement rates are rising.

‘These pilot schemes aim to offer help on both fronts to key members of the profession who contribute so much to the lives of so many.’

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