The Belfast Local Commissioning Group (LCG) is investing £700,000 in a primary care talking therapies service. This announcement follows a pilot project which has been running in West Belfast since June 2013. The funding was made available following successful initiatives to reduce primary care prescribing which has released funding to roll this service out across Belfast.
The Belfast primary care talking therapies service is being delivered in partnership between local GPs, the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, and voluntary and community sector organisations.
Announcing the investment at the November LCG public meeting held in the Millennium Centre, Belfast, Dr Terry Maguire, Chair of the Belfast LCG, said:
“This investment means patients who experience significant pressures affecting their health and wellbeing will have alternatives to medication. GPs will be able to refer patients to a referral hub where a multi-disciplinary team, made up of mental health professionals, GPs and representatives from voluntary and community organisations, will work together to consider an appropriate care plan for the patient.
“The use of prescription drugs is significantly higher in Belfast than elsewhere in Northern Ireland. Often it has been the only option available to GPs to help patients cope. This new service will offer them an alternative to help give patients the support they need to develop their own coping skills.”
Dr Grainne Bonnar, GP Lead for West Belfast Integrated Care Partnership (ICP), said:
“This investment will enable us improve care for patients with common mental health problems. The common mental health problems hub is a genuine example of integrated care with staff from general practice, the community sector, voluntary sector and Trust services working together to deliver better care for patients.”
Barney McNeany, Co-Director Mental Health, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, said:
“The trust welcomes this investment in helping people with common mental health problems. The partnership with GPs and the community and voluntary sector has worked very well in our pilot project and it’s great news that we can now start to roll out these benefits, well proven and welcomed by our service users, across the city”.