A free, confidential service designed to improve access to mental health support for general practitioners and trainee GPs who may be suffering from mental ill-health and addiction has been launched across England today (Jan 30).
The NHS GP Health Service will be accessible via a confidential national self-referral phone line, website and App, enabling GPs and trainees to access information about the services available, access self-help tools, and access clinical support.
Treatment services will be available in all 13 localities across England, with local delivery supported through a local lead, offering a range of clinical support to boost mental health.
NHS England said the new service "is an important part of our commitment to help retain a healthy and resilient workforce and in supporting GPs and GP trainees who wish to remain in or return to clinical practice after a period of ill health".
"GPs and GP trainees have been crying out for a service like this new GP NHS Health Service for some time, so this is an incredibly welcome development – and it was a key pledge in NHS England's GP Forward View – as we strive to ensure we have a healthy workforce who can deliver the best possible, safe patient care to over 1.3m patients everyday," said Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs.
The service is the world's first nationally-funded health service of its kind for general practice, and was created in close collaboration with partners such as the BMA's General Practitioner Committee, Health Education England (HEE), the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGPs), and the General Medical Council (GMC), to respond to doctors' priority issues.
Elsewhere, a 12-month pilot of the GP Career Plus scheme - a £1-million initiative designed to retain family doctors at risk of leaving the profession - is also now being rolled out across England.
Around 80 'at risk' GPs across 11 pilot areas will be recruited into a general practice pool in each area that works across that health system.
These GPs could provide cover for practices, carry out specific types of work such as on long-term conditions or carrying out home visits, provide leadership through clinical training, mentoring or coaching, or support for practices in crisis, for example.
"Experienced GPs have so much to offer our profession and our patients, and incentives to keep them practising on the front line of patient care for as long as possible will be to the benefit of general practice, the wider NHS and most importantly our patients," said Prof Stokes-Lampard.
"We now need to see similar schemes - as part of wider commitments to increase investment in general practice and build GP numbers - in Scotland, Wales and NI."