Mental health specialists in GP surgeries in Norfolk and Suffolk showcased at 11 Downing Street | News and events

Mental health specialists in GP surgeries in Norfolk and Suffolk showcased at 11 Downing Street

Vicky Russ and Lisa Dymond outside Number 11 Downing Street

Staff from NSFT attended Number 11 Downing Street last week to share the work underway across Norfolk and Suffolk to place mental health practitioners in GP surgeries.

Lisa Dymond, Clinical Services Lead for the Primary Care Networks in South and West Norfolk and Vicky Russ, Senior Business & Transformation Programmes Lead were invited to the ‘No Time to Wait’ event, hosted by Rishi Sunak on Tuesday 10 May to mark Mental Health Awareness Week.

No Time to Wait is a campaign led by James Starkie who previously worked in Government, including as a senior advisor to Michael Gove, Dominic Raab and Priti Patel.

The campaign aims to place at least one mental health nurse in every GP surgery across the country. The campaign is backed by Mind, the RCN, the Royal College of General Practitioners, Beat and is supported by many cross-party parliamentarians.

Lisa who is the Clinical Services Lead for the Primary Care Networks in South and West Norfolk became aware of the campaign only a matter of weeks ago and contacted Mr Starkie to share the positive work being undertaken here in Norfolk and Suffolk, which is exactly what the #NoTimeToWait campaign is calling for.

NSFT, in collaboration with Norfolk and Waveney CCG, and voluntary sector organisations have already appointed 35 primary care practitioners in GP surgeries across Norfolk and Suffolk and there’s plans for further recruitment in the next year, including clinical associate psychologist posts and recovery workers. This increased support for people in the community will help people benefit from quicker access to specialist mental health care.

Dr Tissa Weeratunge, Partner GP Watton Medical Practice revealed that, “feedback from patients was very positive about us having a mental health nurse in the practice, and they benefited from quicker, direct access to specialist mental health care, with someone who also had more time to really listen to them”.

One patient who had an appointment with a mental health practitioner said: “I was able to get the right advice and treatment quickly putting my mind at ease. It helps having someone to talk to about your emotions and how to deal with them”. 

Dr Ardyn Ross, local GP and Mental Health Clinical Lead, NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “I am pleased and proud that many GP practices in Norfolk and Waveney already have mental health practitioners featuring as part of their teams; a vital role which is helping to see and treat people more quickly in settings more familiar with them and often closer to home. This year we will be building those teams through excellent collaboration with NSFT and voluntary sector colleagues to provide holistic and comprehensive support for people with mental health issues in their own communities 

“With plans for further recruitment in the next year, including clinical associate psychologist posts and recovery workers, this much needed investment and collaboration across the system will help to improve mental health support for people across Norfolk and Suffolk. It’s vital we do all we can to provide alternative approaches and options to help people as early as possible. This is just one part of a range of mental health investment and support to help people lead more fulfilling, healthier, and happier lives.”

Dr Rosalind Tandy, a GP in Haverhill, and mental health lead for NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “GP practices are no longer only about GPs and instead are now staffed by a wide range of health care professionals who are best placed to support people’s individual health and wellbeing needs.

“Having and maintaining good mental wellbeing is equally important as good physical health, which is why the continued expansion of the mental wellbeing offer within our GP practices is to be welcomed.

“Having local community mental health services in place increases the chances of people getting the timely support they need and greater prospects of successful outcomes.”

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