NHS70 celebrates innovation in general practice mental health services

A Lancashire general practice is transforming care for patients with anxiety and depression after creating a team of mental health nurses.

Mount View Practice in Fleetwood invested in nine mental health nurses to provide dedicated local support after finding that half of patients attending appointments had a mental health condition as their main or secondary illness. The service sees around 2,000 patients a year.

It is being highlighted as an example of good practice during NHS 70 celebrations, which are focusing on progress and innovation in mental health during May.

The Mount View team provide tailored six to eight week treatment programmes that can include cognitive behaviour therapy, counselling and mindfulness. The practice also links with a community initiative, Healthier Fleetwood , where patients can join activities like gardening, singing, walking football or netball or friendship groups to boost their mental wellbeing.

The benefits include fewer patients needing medication such as anti-depressants. The number of patients needing a hospital admission has also reduced, with more patients able to be seen within the practice.

Katrina McDonald, founder of Women Aloud, is a patient of Mount View and uses the service after experiencing a period of mental ill health that could have ended with her taking her own life. She found the service invaluable as she received a tailored care package and has learned to cope with her anxiety and depression.

Katrina explains: “The great thing has been the consistent and cohesive approach to mental health throughout the practice from receptionist, to doctor to mental health team.  You see the same person all the time there’s no need to explain your background and where you are now.  It’s the personal care they give you remembering little details about you which makes a difference.”

The service also helped Katrina to found her own support group, Women Aloud.

She says: “When you suffer from anxiety and depression, it goes hand in hand with being lonely. You want to meet people, but as you take your first step into a room full of strangers the anxiety is crippling and you turn round and leave.  With Women Aloud we can relate to each other, support each and take that step through the door which is so important.”

Dr Mark Spencer, GP Partner at Mount View, says: “We saw 40 per cent of our consultations with patients had a mental health issue as their primary diagnosis. By changing our practice team’s make-up and employing our mental health team this has reduced to approximately eight per cent.  This change has helped our patients immensely and where possible they stay with the practice for their treatment.”

Alison Halliwell, Team Leader and Mental Health Nurse, says “Our team take a holistic approach to our patients’ care and look at all aspects of mental health wellness.  Part of this is looking after patients in our practice within their community; this is a huge benefit to them as they come to familiar surroundings with a team they see at the practice and out and about in their community”.