Mental Health Overtakes GP Appointments As The Main Concern Within The NHS, Healthwatch England Research Shows

Kathryn Snowdon writing in The Huffington Post 31/12/2015 – Mental health is the largest area of concern within the NHS, with lengthy waiting times and a lack of understanding from GPs in need of the most improvement, it has been revealed.

Poor treatment and too little support for those with mental illness is the public’s main frustration with the NHS, Healthwatch England’s research shows.

Healthwatch England’s Chief Executive, Katherine Rake, said: “As attitudes to mental health change and some of the stigma begins to fade away, health bosses need to use this opportunity to refocus services around helping people to identify and manage conditions earlier.

“When we speak to people they say it is all about improving the flexibility to access more low level support when and for as long as they need, not sticking to a one-size-fits-all approach of pre-set care packages.

“Yet still too often we hear from those accessing mental health support and their families that they feel the clock is ticking, and that if they are not ‘better’ by the end of their course of counselling they will be left to cope on their own.”

Suggestions put forward by the public included:

  • Enabling people to ‘self-refer’ rather than having to go through a GP to access mental health support.
  • Offering in-house counselling services through GP surgeries so that there is greater collaboration to promote physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Working with family doctors to ensure staff are better trained to recognise mental health problems early and help people reach support.
  • Greater focus in schools to educate young people about mental health and the support out there to help avoid problems developing.
  • Better use of peer support arrangements – to call on the experiences of past patients to help others dealing with similar mental health challenges.

Mental Health Logo

Community and Social Care Minister, Alistair Burt, said that the NHS has been given “more money than ever before for mental health”, but there is still “more to do”.

He said: “NHS England’s Mental Health Taskforce will report early in 2016 and the Department will look at a range of services for ensuring continued progress towards our commitment to parity of esteem.

“The additional £600 million over five years will support the development of this as part of the Government’s £10 billion commitment to the NHS.

“Investing an additional £600 million in mental health services will mean that significantly more people will have access to talking therapies every year by 2020 and the government will work to set out transformative plans.

“We have made great strides in the way that we think about and treat mental health in this country. As well as providing care for those in crisis, it is right that we invest in helping people early on so they can avoid that crisis and manage their conditions at home rather than in hospital.”

The list of priorities for 2016 were:

1. Mental health services
2. Primary care services
3. Social care services
4. Services working better together
5. Hospital discharge

Last year, the top priority was improving access to primary care services – namely, getting a GP appointment.

“It’s sad to say, in truth, in 2016 there seems little hope of major improvements in all sectors of health and social care”

Make ‘cushy life’ GPs do stint in gruelling A&E

Katie Hopkins writing in The Sun (10th April 2015) gives a viewpoint.


It is 8.29am and I’m already locked in a fierce battle with my doctor’s surgery to beat the engaged tone on the phone and make it ring.

Ring, Speed dial, Ring, Speed dial. I am competing with a legion of lonely, old people in search of company and hypochondriacs in need of a job. All I want is a same-day appointment for my daughter who is sick after the normal miracle cure Calpol and Calprofen back to back has failed me.  Just like me on the end of the phone, half of the GPs think surgeries should open seven days a week.

Man on the phoneBut when it comes to the details, most GPs don’t want these new opening hours to involve THEM.

Well, knock me down with a prescription pad and strangle me with a stethoscope. Who’d have thought?

It was pretty unlikely that GPs, having chosen the easy life, would want to start giving up their weekends and evenings for the benefit of their patients, especially given more than half of them are women.

Despite the delirium of the femi-Nazis  at the Equality Commission, too many women is bad news all round. Women doctors spend up to 20 per cent less time seeing patients because they are more likely to go part-time after kids.

For goodness sake, women, it’s called childcare. Get some.

Given the true warriors on the war of health are the medics working in A&E currently under siege from the queues of people who can’t get an appointment elsewhere, you might imagine GPs would want to be part of the solution.

Trials in London have proved it works. Surgeries pooling resources to keep at least one practice open for evenings and weekends reduced A&E visits between eight and ten per cent.

Of course, patients have a responsibility. A&E should be the last point of call for desperate people half-conscious through pain with their tongue caught in a can opener. It is not for people who fancy an afternoon off work waiting to see a nurse about a splinter.

‘A&E should give you goose bumps, not dairy milk’

I’d stick a sign on the sliding doors: “If you can read this, you’re not dying. go home.” Clearly, illiterates would still get through.

When I toddle back through the waiting area after having an arm relocated, I feel my rage rising as I see the throngs in the waiting room happily chatting away stuffing themselves with chocolate or drinking coffee.

It is A&E, not a chuffing Costa. The place should give you goose bumps. Not the need for a Dairy Milk.

My solution is pretty simple. All GPs should have to spend one week a month working in A&E.

Perhaps they would see what a comfortable niche they have carved out for themselves in their fat office chair.

Plagued by swarms of people unable to get an appointment with a doctor, maybe they would be willing to open their surgeries and save people on the front line of the NHS from intolerable pressures that never seem to go away.


“Whatever happens to GP working practices, you can bet your bottom dollar it will involve a pay rise!!!”