Will there be enough mental health therapists and will stationing them in GP practices make a difference to health outcomes?
NHS England is encouraging doctors to place mental health therapists in surgeries to bring together physical and mental health services.
The therapists will be integrated into surgeries and concentrate on anxiety, depression and other disorders, particularly where this occurs in patients with long-term physical conditions such as diabetes and respiratory and heart problems.
The therapists will largely come from the improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) services and will take self-referrals as well as referrals from healthcare professionals. They will also link up with other mental and physical healthcare services on behalf of patients and practice.
Some parts of the country have already transformed mental health and primary care, said NHS England.
In Cambridge and Peterborough early results show a two-thirds drop in A&E admissions for people with diabetes, cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses when they received timely and effective mental health care. The figures also showed a three-quarters drop in inpatient hospital admissions, resulting in a £200,000 saving for the NHS overall.
According to NHS England, of the 16m people diagnosed with a long-term physical health condition in England, one in three experiences mental health issues.
NHS England national director for mental health Claire Murdoch said 3,000 therapists are on track to be delivered in primary care. There were more than 800 placed in surgeries last year and she hopes the new guidance will encourage more GP practices to do the same.