GP pilot scheme leading the way

A new scheme which will see a mental health professional work as a GP in a GP surgery is believed to be the first of its kind.

A new scheme which will see a mental health professional work as a GP in a GP surgery is believed to be the first of its kind.

Consultant clinical psychologist Cathy Byard will work as a ‘GP psychologist’ in Harewood Medical Centre, Catterick in the one year pilot.

Cathy will work as a GP in the Centre with a remit of mental health, rather than physical health, seeing patients (adults and children) who will be able to self-refer for a wide range of mental health concerns. Appointments, available within 48 hours, will offer patients direct access to a mental health professional who can offer assessment, psycho-education, brief intervention, signposting and referral where necessary. Cathy will also offer more in depth work with those patients for whom early intervention could avert significant deterioration.

The GP psychologist role has been developed by Dr Stephen Wild GP, Harewood medical centre,Dr Amanda Wild, consultant clinical psychologist, TEWV and Dr Stephen Brown, Harewood medical centre.

The role aims to put general practice into psychology by using established models of service delivery used by GPs into the way in which psychologists work.

Stephen Wild, GP at Harewood medical centre, Catterick, said “Although not a new concept to have psychology and counselling services working with primary care services, previous ways of working have explored how psychologists can work into general practice; this model however places a psychologist directly in the GP surgery and adapts GP ways of working into psychology for the benefit of patients and practice staff.

“Patients will have direct access to a mental health professional at their surgery and colleagues will benefit from Cathy’s expertise to help them develop their own working knowledge of mental health to better support their patients.

“It is hoped that this pilot will enhance the quality of care for patients, meeting their needs in a timely manner locally.”

A review of the pilot will be carried out during the scheme to assess the impact and suitability of the role of a GP psychologist.