Mental Health Practitioner

A significant amount of time within primary care is spent on people who have mental heatlh needs. The time that is needed to address these needs can be significant, and it is often more appropriate for the patient to see a skilled professional with training in menta health issues than other members of the team.

Mental health practitioners may be employed within primary care in a number of ways. Within BSW there are currently two models of mental health practitioner within primary care:

  1. Offering urgent mental health appointments that would normally be booked with the Duty GP if they cannot wait for a routine GP appointment;
  2. Providing assessment, interventions and support for people with mental health issues that can be managed within primary care, from initial presentation and ongoing.

The first of these models involves telephone calls to patients with mental health issues who are requesting an urgent appointment. Over the phone the practitioner assesses whether the patients needs to be offered a face to face appointment or whether they can be signposted to other services or resources. If necessary, the practitioner will see the patient face to face appointments to diagnose and make an initial treatment plans and refer onwards if needed.

This role provides immediate access to specialist advice / urgent help and relieves pressure on the GPs so they can focus on physical health issues.

The second model is based on ongoing support, where the mental health practitioner can offer support and interventions from the start of a mental health ‘episode’ and follow the patient through over a period of time until the immediate issue is resolved.

The importance of having a mental health professionals (including Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) within each Primary Care Network has been recognised by including these roles within the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme from April 2021 whereby these posts can be funded from NHS England. The exact model will be determined following a number of pilots that are being run across England in 2020.

These roles are still in their infancy, and further guidance is expected about the requirements for claiming reimbursement.

Training is available, but further information is expected about the training that will be required and available to practitioners over the forthcoming months.

Is there any recruitment funding available to Primary Care Networks?

This is a role that will be included in the Additional Roles Recruitment Scheme from April 2021. Primary Care Networks may therefore be able to access funding via the CCG to cover salary and on-costs. We are expecting to receive details about core responsibilities and training requirements as well as reimbursement amounts in the coming months. In the meantime, you can find out more about the scheme and workforce planning by contacting the GP Forward View Leads who work with the CCG’s Primary Care Team and by referring to the information in the links below:

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