Market Engagement launched: Improving GPs’ Access to Mental Health Support

NHS Arden & Greater East Midlands Commissioning Support Unit (NHS Arden & GEM CSU) is carrying out a market engagement exercise on behalf of NHS England for the provision of services aimed at Improving GPs’ Access to Mental Health Support. They’d like to hear back from potential providers by 24 February.

This follows a Procurement Prior Information Notification (PIN) being published on 24 December. The PIN notifies the market of a forthcoming procurement, which will seek to appoint a provider(s) that can deliver a service improving GPs’ access to mental health support.

Increasing pressures in general practice are one of the reasons why GPs leave the profession. NHS England and key partners are currently delivering several initiatives to support General Practice including Supporting Vulnerable Practices, the Workforce Action Plan, the Primary Care Transformation Fund, and a new national Occupational Health (OH) Specification, due to be published shortly.

In addition to plans to publish a single national Occupational Health specification, which will ensure far greater consistency in the OH support for GPs across the country, Simon Stevens, Chief Executive, announced in September 2015 that NHS England would go further and look to develop additional services to Improve Access to Mental Health Support for GPs including combatting issues like stress and burnout.

We are currently working closely with our partners to scope out what such a service would be, with a view to putting in place a nationally available service in 2016. Early scoping has informed us that there are several ways which a national service could be delivered; through local providers in different geographies, or by a single lead provider through a hub and spoke structure.

There are also several different pathways and services which could be offered to support GPs’ Mental Health and Addiction including:

  • point of access to the service via various methods i.e. telephone / website;
  • alternative methods of access via the internet, social media and people have a response back by a suitably qualified clinician/councillor;
  • initial contact and assessment/consultation with a suitably qualified clinician/councillor;
  • assessment, intervention, and follow-up short term or long term treatment options;
  • co-ordination of further care or advice and onward referral into other NHS services with the appropriate skills and resources to meet their needs;
  • outreach and leadership in local areas to promote awareness and preventative means to support GPs’ Mental Health.

Currently, occupational health services are available across England but there are varying levels of follow-up services and these sometimes do not provide options of treatment for mental health related problems. However OH services is more about establishing consistent occupational health advice and guidance for performers on the National Performers’ List, including some enhanced health assessments as required for their performer responsibilities. NHS England therefore intends to look at options to commission a national service which Improves GPs’ Access to Mental Health Support, which goes beyond the specification of OH services; such services has often been referred to as ‘Practitioner Health’ or ‘Physician Health’ services.

If your organisation is interested in providing the services set out above, please:

  1. Register on the Bravo portal

To access the portal:

  • Login with your unique username and password
  • From the suppliers reserved area click PQQ Open to All Suppliers’ –this is a repository of all PQQ/ITT (Pre-Qualification Questionnaire / Invitation to Tender) open to any registered supplier.
  • Browse the PQQ (there may be more than one page) and select “NHS England – Improving GP’s access to mental health support – Market Engagement Questionnaire” by clicking on it
  • Note the Details buttons on the left for Navigation and the Actions below
  • Click the ‘Express Interest’ action –this will move the PQQ from the PQQs Open to All Suppliers area to your ‘My PQQs’ area –this is a reserved area for PQQs that you have either been invited to or expressed interest in.
  1. Complete a copy of the market assessment questionnaire which can be found on Bravo by 2.00pm on Wednesday 24 February (PQQ_187 on the Bravo Portal refers).

Please note: this is purely a market assessment exercise to gather facts on potential providers. The subsequent procurement will be advertised separately and all organisations wanting to participate will need to respond to the procurement advertisement as and when published.

The responses received during the market analysis exercise will not be taken into account in any future evaluation process as part of the formal procurement process.

Please note that this is not a PQQ, we are using this functionality within the Bravo portal to communicate with interested parties.

  1. State in your response to question ME01 if you would like to request a place at the market engagement event that is scheduled for 1 March 2016 in London.

We welcome potential providers raising issues via this questionnaire, but we do not intend to respond to clarification questions at this stage.  If you have any problems with accessing the Bravo portal, please contact the Bravo Helpdesk on Phone: 0800 368 4850 Or via E-mail:  Otherwise all communications should be via the online portal.

We have also published this article on the UK Crown Commercial Services and via the Official Journal of the EU

Further information on the Programme Improving GPs’ Access to Mental Health Support will be released in due course.