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”

Doctors – private work hitting NHS patients – conflict of interest?

Something else we already know! – NHS doctors who work in private healthcare “on the side” are directly harming the health service, a senior consultant has said. In an article in the medical journal the BMJ, cardiologist Dr John Dean said that he had stopped working in the private sector after realising the “direct adverse affects on the NHS”

What took him so long to work that out?

BMA‘Coining it in’ while our NHS festers!

Many experienced NHS doctors run or work in a private practice alongside their NHS work. There are no rules against it in principle but consultant contracts stipulate there must be no conflict of interest between the two.

However, Dr Dean, who has supplemented his main income from Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust with private work, writes that any time spent in the private sector deprives the NHS of consultants’ hours, and warned that private practice creates “a perverse incentive” to increase NHS waiting times.

“I realised that, in all conscience, I could not go on with it,” he writes. “no matter how high I set my own moral and ethical standards I could not escape the fact that I was involved in a business where the conduct of some was so venal, it bordered on criminal – the greedy preying on the needy.”

The British Medical Association (BMA), the doctors’ professional body and union, said that contracts made clear there should be no conflict of interest with NHS work, and that consultants who wanted to work privately must first offer to do extra NHS work, and consider the NHS “the priority”.

Cooper. C 2015 The Independent 6th May 2015 P. 4

“A rolling scandal for years – A fiscal review of the cost of private practice doctors and the NHS resources they use is long overdue. However, it’s just another of the UK’s disgraceful ‘boys club’ rip offs – aren’t they payed enough?”