GPs and mental health trust working together to help people in Oldham

Date published: 04 May 2022

Patients visiting GP surgeries in Oldham will soon benefit from dedicated support from a senior and highly experienced mental health practitioner.

Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health, learning disability and autism services, has recruited 28 senior mental health practitioners to work with GPs and other professionals as part of the primary care networks (PCNs) in Oldham, Rochdale, Bury, Stockport and Tameside and Glossop.

Demand for mental health support in primary care is increasing; nine out of ten adults with mental health problems are supported in primary care and around 40 per cent of GP appointments involve mental health*.

Clare Parker, director of quality, nursing and healthcare professionals, at Pennine Care, said: “Primary care plays a key role in supporting patients’ mental health and wellbeing and with further impact on mental health caused by the covid pandemic, it’s vital that patients accessing primary care services are given the support they need.

“Joining up primary care and our expert mental health services is essential. Our mental health practitioners will help people who have milder mental health issues access support early and help to reduce potential referrals in the future to secondary mental health services.”

All 28 senior mental health practitioners have now been appointed, including 6 in Oldham, and work has started in each of the five boroughs to set up clinics for patients.

April Iles, one of the new mental health practitioners, explained: “I’m working with four GP surgeries making up a primary care network. I’m in the process of setting up face-to-face clinics in each of the surgeries, as well as looking at home visits and telephone appointments when required.

“I’ll be helping patients access early support with their mental health in primary care, taking pressure off GPs who are dealing with increases in mental health, and completing mental health assessments to those patients who require onward referrals to our specialist secondary care services in the trust.”

The new mental health PCN roles are part of Pennine Care’s ambitious service transformation programme. The aim is that they’ll form part of the wider living well approach, which is being developed and will bring together health, social care and third and voluntary sector partners. This joined up approach will help to make sure people receive the right care, at the right time, in the right place and reduce referrals to specialist or hospital mental health services.

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