New report calls for more clinical psychologists to be embedded into GP practices
Access to clinical psychologists in GP practices leads to better patient outcomes, a reduction in demand for GP appointments, increased staff morale and is cost effective, according to a new report by the British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology.
The report, which is illustrated by five case studies, also makes four key recommendations, including that there should be at least one clinical psychologist available for every 50,000 practice patients.
The pressures faced by GPs are well-documented, and unsustainable workloads are leaving GPs at breaking point. These problems have been exacerbated by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and require new and innovative solutions so that GPs and their patients are better supported.
The case studies from Bradford, Shropshire, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Surrey provide evidence of the clinical and economic value that clinical psychology can bring to primary care, including testimonies from GPs and patients.
The offer includes both direct clinical care for patients who would otherwise have slipped through the net, and practical specialist advice and support for GPs and other primary care clinicians to develop management plans for patients with more complex problems, bringing together physical and mental health.
Lucy Marks MBE, consultant clinical psychologist and lead author of the report, said:
“It is more important than ever to provide support to GPs and primary care practitioners in order to help them manage the current workload crisis, and at the same time support those patients whose physical and psychological needs, which often overlap, are not being met.
“Many patients require more specialist mental health input, and this can present challenges for GPs who can find themselves spending significant amounts of time identifying where to access appropriate help for these patients and chasing referrals.
“Having a clinical psychologist based in primary care can change this situation, and our case studies show very promising results demonstrating good patient outcomes, high GP satisfaction and cost-effectiveness.”
The report offers four concrete proposals to roll out the learning from these case studies across primary care services:
Clinical psychology should be routinely embedded into primary care
There should be at least one clinical psychologist available per 50,000 practice patients
Integrated care systems should be making use of the additional funding from 2021 to employ mental health professionals in primary care and bring more clinical psychology expertise into GP practices
Clinical commissioning groups and integrated care systems should develop plans and local recruitment strategies for extending clinical psychology provision in primary care as part of the NHS Long Term Plan and the Scottish Government Mental Health Strategy
You can read the full report and recommendations, including details on the five pilot programmes, on the BPS website, along with a shorter briefing on the findings.