Mental health has in recent years taken an increasingly pronounced standing in political debate and medical research, with the promise of expansion and an increased budget; it remains a top priority for the NHS. The GP Patient Survey (GPPS) helps us understand a little bit more about the experiences of these patients in relation to general practice.
The proportion of people reporting a mental health condition (MHC) has steadily risen, 5.7% have a MHC compared with 2.8% in 2013. MHCs are more prevalent amongst younger patients, with 6.9% of those aged 18-34 reporting a MHC compared with 4.5% of 55-74 year olds, falling to 1.7% of patients aged 75 and over.
We see higher proportions of individuals living in deprived and urban areas reporting a MHC. Both groups of patients are also less likely to be confident about managing their own health than those in the least deprived and rural areas.
Two in three (66%) patients with a MHC have a preferred GP, however fewer (38%) always get to speak to them. For many patients with a MHC it’s not just the GP practice where support can be found. However, GPPS data shows that patients with a MHC are less positive regarding the support they get from local services or organisations to manage their condition; around 26% state they do not have enough support compared with around 15% of patients without a MHC. They are also less positive about the different aspects of their last GP appointment, such as the GP giving them enough time, listening to them, and treating them with care and concern.
There are once again some disparities in terms of age. GPPS data shows that younger patients with a MHC are more likely than their older counterparts to say they do not have enough support (31% of 18-34 year olds compared with 14% over 85).
While it is clear that all patients with a mental health condition need support from their GP and other services, it is also clear there is some way to go. Considering the disparities based on location, deprivation and age it is important that local health services are able to respond to the differences within this group.
Ipsos MORI administers GPPS on behalf of NHS England. 2,157,769 questionnaires were sent out nationally, and 808,332 were returned completed between 3 January and 31 March 2017. This represents a response rate of 37.5%. Data is weighted to match the profile of the population. Read further technical information about how the survey works here.
For more information about the survey, and to access the data see www.gp-patient.co.uk.