Millions of mental health patients may miss out on adequate treatment under the government's plans to devolve budgets and responsibilities to family doctors, a charity has said.
Some 1.5 million people could slip through the net as GPs feel unable to provide the level of care that is required for people suffering from severe mental health problems under plans to re-engineer the NHS to embrace GP-led commissioning, the Observer reports.
A poll gauging opinion within the health service about plans to shift responsibility away from PCTs towards GPs revealed that more than three-quarters of family doctors say they feel ill-prepared to deal with severe mental health cases.
Paul Jenkins, chief executive of Rethink, told the Observer: "GPs with a real interest in mental health can play an invaluable role. But we often hear from people with mental illness that GPs don't understand mental health and want to quickly refer them on to specialists. Now GPs themselves are telling us that they have concerns too."
In a second poll, conducted by doctors.net, two-thirds of 232 doctors did not welcome the proposals to devolve healthcare commissioning to GPs.