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New report addresses key issues in primary mental healthcare

30 January 2007

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A report has been launched today that sets out how to deliver improved primary care services for people with mental health problems. The report, Primary Concerns: A Better Deal for Mental Health in Primary Care, was produced by the Mental Health Foundation and the Pharmaceutical Schizophrenia Initiative.

Based on recommendations made by leading figures in the mental health and primary care sectors, the report sets out the issues to be addressed to ensure that primary care mental health services offer accessible and inclusive services for patients.

The report says that practice-based commissioning, which enables primary care practices to save money by providing hospital services direct rather than paying for secondary care services, needs to extend to mental health in order to provide a range of services and treatments to patients. This would require commissioning training for GPs and other primary care staff, and the introduction of a national tariff for mental health.

Primary Concerns: A Better Deal for Mental Health in Primary Care also asserts that people with mental health problems should be receiving the same level of treatment for their physical health needs as others. This need for equality is deemed crucial because people with severe and enduring mental health problems often have worse physical health outcomes.

Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: “Despite the introduction of practice-based commissioning, which will drive service redesign and the movement of patients and resources from hospital into the community, mental health is not always considered within the primary care agenda. It is important that policy makers work smarter to ensure that opportunities to improve primary mental healthcare are not missed, so people with mental health problems get a better deal than at present.”

Primary Concerns: A Better Deal for Mental Health in Primary Care is free to download from