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What is the NHS GP Health Service?

The NHS GP Health Service is a free and confidential service for GPs and GP trainees working or looking to return to clinical practice in England who are suffering with a mental health concern, including stress or depression, or an addiction issue.

The NHS GP Health service will help GPs with:

  • Common and more complex mental health conditions
  • Mental health conditions relating to a physical health issue
  • Substance misuse including support for community detoxification
  • Rehabilitation and support to return to work after a period of mental ill-health.

The service may be accessed by:

  • Any general practitioner or GP Trainee who is registered on the National Performers List in England.
  • Any GP or GP trainee who is looking to return to clinical practice after a period of absence.

The GPH service

  • is not an Occupational Health service, it is a treatment service. GPH clinicians may link with local OH services to support a GP patient’s return to clinical practice. If OH support is what you need, please contact the NHS England regional team to identify your local OH provider.
  • is not a replacement for mainstream NHS services, nor is it designed to offer a second opinion. GPs who are currently supported by NHS mental health services would be encouraged to remain with their local treatment team, but could seek guidance on particular aspects of care, or support for return to work.
  • can offer independent support to GPs who are undergoing performance proceedings, but it can not be used to provide health reports to inform PAGs or PLDPs. Formal assessment of health issues should be commissioned from a separate organisation.

What can I expect when I access the service?

A GP or GP trainee presenting with any severity of mental ill-health may access the service using the GPH central team via the telephone contact or email address. The service is completely self-referral.

Other individuals or organisations, such as the GPs employer, appraiser, OH service or own GP can only signpost to this service; they may help to facilitate access with their consent, otherwise it is the responsibility of the GP to make the call.

When a GP calls the service, we will take some information such as urgency of support needed / contact details, and hopefully can answer any questions the GP may have.

The GP will be offered a telephone assessment with a GPH clinician and then given access to book an appointment for an in depth assessment and discuss the service treatment options available. All GPs accessing the service can have the initial assessment anonymously but if they are to continue with further assessment and treatments following the initial meet, then the GP will be required to disclose their identity to the treating clinician, to enable safe care such as prescribing to take place. Arrangements for individual and group therapy where appropriate will be made following the assessment.

Each GP will be case managed to ensure services are delivered safely and effectively. Case management may also extend to liaising with other intermediaries where appropriate and with consent from the GP. For example the patient’s own GP to continue prescriptions, or support to return to clinical practice via OH services.

In more complex situations services may be beyond the core offer of the GPH service, and on a case by case basis these will be considered for GPH to continue to support rather than refer the GP into specialist NHS mental health services.

GPH service delivery

Examples of treatment options available to GPH patients are:

  • Assessment and case management provided by GPs, psychiatrists, and specialist mental health and addiction nurses
  • General psychiatry
  • Addiction psychiatry
  • Psychological therapies, e.g. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)
  • Short term psychotherapeutic interventions
  • Local interventions /groups (therapeutic groups to address specific issues affecting mental health in a particular area)

In very exceptional circumstances, on an anonymous pre-approval basis inpatient addiction rehabilitation may be available.