Devon

Devon GPs mental health care 'not satisfactory'

People in Devon going to see their GPs about mental health issues are not having a "satisfactory experience", according to a survey.

The report by the Local Involvement Network of Devon (LINk) follows a four month study of 60 patients.

Concerns raised included long waiting lists and being offered "pills instead of therapy" by GPs.

Devon Partnership NHS Trust said there was a "strong commitment" to develop and improve services.

'Crucial role'

According to the report some patients complained about a "lack of empathy" from GPs and a "lack of support in a crisis" and services not being available in local areas.

Kez, from Great Torrington, who took part in the survey, told the BBC: "When I went to my GP... he didn't pick up on the amount of stress and anxiety I had and didn't pick up my need for some serious help with my depression.

"I was just told to go off and get a job in Sainsbury's and get on with it.

"I came out of the surgery in quite a distressed state.

"I felt quite suicidal."

Allen Bowen, from LINk Devon, said: "Our case studies in this report really do give us cause for concern.

"GPs have a crucial role to play, one out of three or four people who go to GPs have a concern about their mental health or emotional wellbeing.

'Self-referral'

"It's crucial GPs know what's available locally and can signpost people and access support on behalf of patients."

Liz Davenport, from Devon Partnership NHS Trust, said: "Our conversations with GPs and others across the county indicate a strong commitment to develop and improve services further.

"Although waiting times are still too high in some parts of Devon, they are moving in the right direction.

"From the end of September, we are hoping to offer people the option of self-referral, so that they do not need to be referred by their GP."

She said that in 2010, Devon's Depression and Anxiety Service had had more than 10,000 referrals and the number was expected to increase.

LINk Devon is a one of a number of Local Involvement Networks set up by the government in 2008 to get people involved in the commissioning, provision and scrutiny of local health and social care services.

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