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Emotional intelligence, not just artificial intelligence, will be key to the NHS, say doctors

  • 81% of doctors say skilled volunteers in the NHS could help safeguard its future
  • 56% of doctors say the NHS would derive most benefit from tech-literate young volunteers who could teach patients to use new technologies
  • 36% of doctors say the NHS would benefit from skilled volunteer project managers who can play a role either implementing new IT or developing and scaling volunteer services
  • 45% of doctors say politicians should volunteer in the NHS to develop their EQ skills
  • How can organisations such as the NHS and charities benefit from a new breed of volunteer, people who bring both professional and personal skills to their volunteering role? Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England & co-founder of Pro Bono Economics, discusses volunteering and the Fourth Industrial Revolution at Pro Bono Economics’ annual lecture, Weds 22 May, at the Royal Society. 

Andy Haldane, says:
Technology will transform our future working lives and working habits.  The rise of Artificial Intelligence will put an even greater premium on interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence – EQ rather than IQ.   In this environment, people will be drawn to an even greater extent than in the past to purposeful activities which use and develop these skills.  That includes volunteering, for example in the NHS or in charities.  Doing so will enhance people’s lives and well-being, improve the effectiveness of charities and the NHS and create much-needed social capital for societies.”

Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett, Founder and Chair of Helpforce, commented: “Realistically, the NHS can only consider deploying skilled volunteers, or increasing its volunteer base, if structures are in place to manage the process, but this doesn’t mean it shouldn’t or can’t be done.  If we can efficiently direct more front-line resource to the benefit of patients, that can only be a positive. Volunteers do not get paid for their work, and they should never be considered a replacement for frontline staff or a clinical workforce. That is why Helpforce has worked closely with health unions to deliver a new charter and establish formal boundaries between the role of a volunteer and the role of staff in our health care.”

Artificial intelligence (AI) is in the vanguard of the Fourth Industrial Revolution as technology further transforms our way of life.  At the same time economists suggest that as AI and robotics redefine traditional jobs, and as people look for new purpose in their lives, more of them are likely to volunteer.

Healthcare professionals already acknowledge the benefits of AI, machine learning and other scientific innovations that replicate human IQ (cognitive) skills, but, as new research by charity Pro Bono Economics reveals, doctors strongly believe that human EQ (emotional quotient) skills remain key to the NHS’s future.

An estimated three million volunteers are already active in the NHS and social care. And as NHS England gears up to grow its volunteer workforce from 80,000 to156,000 over the next three years1, eight in 10 (81%) GP’s and hospital doctors say it could be expanded in future to include more skilled volunteers – people who use both their professional and personal skills in their volunteer roles –  to help safeguard the NHS.2

While doctors appreciate the contribution that professional volunteers like lawyers, and economists can make, it turns out they are twice as likely to value the skills that tech-savvy young volunteers can apply to the NHS. Of the 1,000 doctors surveyed by medeConnect Healthcare Insight, over half (56%, comprising 59% of GP’s and 55% of secondary care doctors) say that the NHS would derive most benefit from tech-literate young people who could teach patients to use new technologies:  One GP from South Wales commented: “I deal with the very elderly, many of whom struggle with even basic technology.  Someone to support them to use current technologies would be the best use of volunteering.” 

Meanwhile, a third (36%) of doctors say the NHS would benefit from skilled volunteer project managers who can play a role either implementing new IT or developing and scaling volunteer services.  “Skilled volunteers need managing and that takes resources”, commented a hospital consultant from the Midlands.

Other skilled volunteer roles that doctors deem potentially beneficial for the NHS include:

  • Data analysts to work on large and complex health datasets (32%);
  • AI and robotics experts to improve productivity of staff, or to innovate in the fields of health and social benefits (31%);
  • Economists who could help NHS trusts demonstrate the societal benefit of new innovations and secure future funding from government (26%);
  • Lawyers who could help trusts and practices in developing positive strategies to reduce legal challenges against them (23%).

■ Doctors say that volunteering is beneficial to the volunteers too

Over half (51%) of doctors surveyed say that people under 25 are the group most likely to benefit from their volunteering role, as it would teach them valuable life skills and people skills. According to doctors, established professionals who would most benefit from increasing their EQ by volunteering include: politicians (45%); employees of major tech companies (23%); management consultants (22%); civil servants (16%); economists, journalists and lawyers (14%); bankers (13%), and employees from social media firms (10%).

■ The challenges of scaling-up volunteering / Helpforce’s NHS volunteer charter

Although most doctors are supportive of skilled volunteering in the NHS, some have concerns that volunteers will be used as a replacement for paid clinical staff in order to cut costs, which could compromise patient safety.

–            “Utilising skilled volunteers in the NHS will limit employing proper professional support in areas where they are desperately needed within our organisation – IT professionals, robotic engineers and economists as professionals.” Specialist registrar, Midlands.   

–            “Skilled volunteers need managing and that takes resources.”  Consultant, Midlands

–             “If skilled volunteering was managed from grassroots people, not politicians, it could be very beneficial.” Specialist registrar, North West

To address these challenges, volunteering charity Helpforce, which aims to increase the number of volunteers in the NHS, recently launched a charter showing how volunteers can make a valuable contribution to the NHS in England, without undermining paid staff or affecting patient safety.  Among the key principles enshrined in the charter are:

  • Volunteers should not undermine paid staff, with essential care tasks reserved for health employees.
  • No volunteers should be included in the workforce numbers for individual trusts and they must be clearly identified as volunteers.
  • Unions will monitor how volunteers are used within organisations, with patient safety and confidentiality the primary concern.

■ The Pro Bono Economics Annual Lecture: The Fourth Industrial Revolution – a turning point for the third sector?

In a lecture tonight (Wednesday 22nd May) at the Royal Society, marking the 10th anniversary of economics volunteering charity Pro Bono Economics (PBE), Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England and co-founder of PBE, will argue that, in the brave new world of robots, driverless trucks and automated tasks, the responsibilities of traditional jobs will be redefined. In the future, as people look for new purpose in their lives, more of them will become likely to volunteer.

Among the big questions that Andy Haldane will explore are:

  • How will society rise to the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and make the most of the opportunities that it holds?
  • How will we find the right balance between artificial intelligence and the human factor?
  • How can organisations such as the NHS and charities benefit from a new breed of volunteer, people who bring both professional and personal skills to their volunteering role?

Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England and co-founder of volunteering charity Pro Bono Economics, commented:

Technology will transform our future working lives and working habits.  The rise of Artificial Intelligence will put an even greater premium on interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence – EQ rather than IQ.   In this environment, people will be drawn to an even greater extent than in the past to purposeful activities which use and develop these skills.  That includes volunteering, for example in the NHS or in charities.  Doing so will enhance people’s lives and well-being, improve the effectiveness of charities and the NHS and create much-needed social capital for societies.”

Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett, Founder and Chair of Helpforce, a new organisation using the power of volunteering to improve health and wellbeing, commented:

There is a huge appetite for volunteering in the NHS: over the last five months alone we have recruited 34,000 new volunteers, many of whom have valuable professional skills to bring to their volunteering roles, complementing the compassion and comfort they provide every day – whether directly or indirectly – to patients.

Volunteers do not, of course, get paid for their work, and they should never be considered a replacement for frontline staff or a clinical workforce. That is why we have worked closely with health unions to deliver a new charter and establish formal boundaries between the role of a volunteer and the role of staff in our healthcare, and to create a national standard for us all to aspire to. That being said, a volunteer might, in special circumstances, bring professional skills to the NHS which it simply might not have access to otherwise. An example of this are the IT experts who volunteered to help one NHS trust restore normality after a dramatic ransomware attack that froze computers across the health service in May 2017. The positive implications of such professional intervention, in terms both of restoring normal service and of damage limitation, are not only considerable but readily quantifiable.”

■ Innovations that have the most potential to transform the NHS

47% of doctors say that technology and genetic therapies with the capacity to cure and prevent serious medical conditions have the most potential to transform the NHS in the future.

  • Big data, such as genomic data and patient records to aid prevention, diagnosis and treatment (41%)
  • Precision and personalised medicine (36%)
  • Online consultations in secondary care to reduce patients’ need to travel to appointments for complex health conditions (32%)
  • AI and robots to aid medical diagnosis and treatment (20%)
  • AI in support of doctor learning and CPD (continued professional development) (17%)

■ Who should pay for innovation in the NHS?

When asked to rate potential funding sources for new innovations and technology in the NHS, 29% of doctors most favour a new targeted tax on internet giants, with proceeds going directly to the NHS.  24% think that the best option is for the NHS to partner with companies and universities that offer AI and technology expertise, and 26% recommend renewed efforts to cut wasteful spend.

■ Doctors views on AI & new technologies

Doctors recognise the potential that scientific and technological advances hold for transformation of the NHS, but many believe that AI and robotics should not replace clinical staff, believing that these technologies should act solely as a practical aid.  Consequently, on average, doctors say that only 26% of their job will depend on/be replaced by AI and robotics by 2030.   39% say that AI and robotics will make no difference to their working day at all, 27% think it will reduce their working hours, giving them more time to spend with patients or do related work.  While 8% say it is likely to increase the length of their working day.

  • My radiology workstation is often unable to load scans without crashing, and our software is around ten years old.  The idea of AI and robots seems distant and rather unrealistic at this stage.” Consultant, Scotland
  • AI / robots have to be used in the right place. At the end of the day they should be there to support, not replace human physicians.” Specialist registrar, Scotland
  • If we can automate admin-heavy roles and increase clinical time for clinicians through incorporating AI into NHS systems I think it will be most welcome.” Specialist registrar, North East
  • Robots and AI can carry out automated tasks and not fall sick and work 24hrs a day, and therefore be more productive. AI can be used to diagnose conditions but will not have the empathy of a human.” GP, South East
  • I’m excited about the use of AI to improve patient care and hopefully reduce the unsustainable stress of working in the NHS.” GP Partner, North West
  • AI is not a panacea. Robots need humans to run and maintain them.  They are worse than nothing when they break down.  At least humans repair themselves!”  Consultant, North West
  • There is potential for AI in a future NHS, but it needs to be carefully managed as part of a planned transformation program and not left to tech companies acting as market disruptors.” Locum GP, London
  • Robotics and automation could make a massive difference.  I think AI will fail; we do not have the data sets we need to drive it.” Specialist registrar, Midlands
  • AI may help but the only thing that can save the NHS is proper funding in order to have enough nurses and doctors to allow it to work properly as well as the money to spend on these new technologies.” GP, London
  • AI/robots will help in fields such as use of insulin pumps in diabetes (especially for data interpretation), but otherwise I think patients will continue to need human contact by doctors.” Speciality doctor, South East
  • I think this will be an important technology in future. it would reduce workload and burnout of doctors.” Speciality doctor, London
  • Ends –

For queries or interview / case study requests/regional breakdown across the UK, contact:

SENSO Communications

Penny Lukats – 07775 992350  penny@sensocommunications.com 

NOTES TO EDITORS

About the survey Survey of 1,004 doctors: 203 GPs and 801 secondary care doctors in the UK carried out by medeConnect Healthcare Insight between 26th April till 2nd May 2019

References

  1. NHS Long Term Plan https://www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/online-version/chapter-4-nhs-staff-will-get-the-backing-they-need/8-volunteers/
  2. Survey of 1,004 doctors: 203 GPs and 801 SCs in the UK carried out by MedeConnect Healthcare Insight between 26th April till 2nd May 2019
  3. Speech given by Andrew G Haldane, Chief Economist, Bank of England. Pro Bono Economics lecture to the Society of Business Economists, London 9 September 2014

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/speech/2014/in-giving-how-much-do-we-receive-the-social-value-of-volunteering

About Pro Bono Economics:

Pro Bono Economics helps charities and social enterprises understand and improve the impact and value of their work, matching professional economists who want to use their skills to volunteer with charities. Set up in 2009, Pro Bono Economics has helped over 400 charities large and small, covering a wide range of issues including mental health, education, employment and complex needs.

Pro Bono Economics is supported by high-profile economists, including Andy Haldane (Bank of England), Sir Dave Ramsden (Bank of England), and Clare Lombardelli (HM Treasury) as Trustees, and Diane Coyle (University of Cambridge), Kate Barker, Lord Jim O’Neill, Robert Peston, Martin Wolf and Lord Adair Turner as patrons. Lord Gus O’Donnell has been Chair of the Board of Trustees since September 2016.

probonoeconomics.com @ProBonoEcon

About Helpforce

Helpforce is using the power of volunteering to improve the health and wellbeing of people across the UK. It wants to help double the number of volunteers working in the NHS by 2021, and see a recognisable improvement in the range and quality of volunteer roles available to support patient care in hospital and at home.

  • Helpforce was formally established as a Community Interest Company in September 2017 and both its Board and Advisory Board includes leaders from across the NHS, voluntary and wider public sector.
  • www.helpforce.community
  • @help_force

 

 

BBC Radio 1 in just seven months – can millennials break through by breaking current social rules of the music business

From bedroom to BBC Radio 1 in just seven months

Bud’s debut single ‘City Bird’ hits BBC Radio 1 on Friday 22nd July

bud

·         City Bird, by Bud, available to stream now exclusively at https://soundcloud.com/ budofficial

·         Available on iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer etc. from Friday 22nd July

·         Help make Bud’s City Bird fly by tweeting @BBCR1 with the hashtag #citybird 

·         Watch Bud on  https://goo.gl/VWz99H

Up-and-coming Nottingham singer-songwriter Bud, as yet unsigned to a record label, will see her debut single ‘City Bird’ join the BBC Radio 1 playlist from Friday 22nd July.  She follows the likes of Jake Bugg, Izzy Bizu, Tom Odell and Jack Garratt, who all received their first Radio 1 plays by uploading their music to BBC Introducing.  Every week, Radio 1 features an up-and-coming artist from the BBC Introducing world.

Bud’s first single ‘City Bird’ was taken from her 5-track debut EP of the same name and will be available to download from Friday 22nd July. Its journey started back in November 2015 when Bud, together with local producer Origin One and her younger brother, recorded and produced the cheeky pop-reggae track in her brother’s bedroom. Following a successful £2,000 crowd-funding round on Kickstarter she was able to make her very first music video and threw her first EP launch party. (See story and review here: http://goo.gl/UyHfHG) She uploaded the track to BBC Introducing, where – to her surprise – City Bird was given airtime by BBC East Midlands DJ, Dean Jackson.  Dean then sent it on to the BBC Radio 1 London team and supported her track.

It has taken Bud and ‘City Bird’ just seven months to go from bedroom to BBC Radio 1, but the 22-year-old’s journey as a singer-songwriter has not been exactly straightforward, and a record deal has so far eluded her.  In an industry where, even to merit consideration by labels, an artist’s social media following is of paramount importance, she realistically needs a baseline of 10,000 + followers on Facebook.

If you like Bud’s track,  tweet #CityBird @BBCR1 and follow her on Twitter and Facebook @budofficial.

Bud’s Journey
Bud started writing in her bedroom when she was 14 and began performing live three years ago.   She said:

“My mum wanted me to become a lawyer or doctor, but I knew that only music could make me happy, so I got a place at Leeds College of Music. They gave me a grilling and I was told that my voice had too many ‘issues.’ I found the criticism hard to digest … It made me doubt my ability and I lost confidence as a musician. So I quit before my first year finished and signed up to study Nutritional Sciences at the University of Nottingham. I was bitterly disappointed with myself for giving up so easily, and I’ve now promised myself that I will never quit music again! Once I returned to my bedroom, I started to write music again as it was the only thing which could heal my bruises. I found the courage I lost and I stopped comparing myself to other musicians and trying to conform to other people’s ideas of what music should sound like, or just following what’s ‘in.’  I think that’s when I really found my sound.”

Bud, who says she’s been inspired by strong independent artists such as Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse, Bob Marley, Paolo Nutini and Corrine Bailey Rae, added:

“I’m so chuffed to have made it to the BBC Radio 1 playlist and have my single played alongside established pop acts.  I hope the BBC Radio 1 audience will connect with my pop-reggae fusion sound and with my lyrics, which I try to make intelligent enough to tackle difficult topics. But more than that, I just want to use this incredible opportunity to deliver my message of love and positivity to those who have ever doubted themselves.  The internet might have changed the way we consume music, but for an upcoming artists like me, radio, and particularly the BBC, is still so important. ”

–   Ends –

For further information, interviews, live performances, and images, please contact Senso Communications:

Ella Sage, 07775992350, ella@sensocommunications.com

 

Help make Bud’s City Bird fly

CITY BIRD, her debut five-track EP can be streamed for free until the 22nd July on SoundCloud. After which it will become available for download via online retailers.

To show your support:

·         Tweet @BBCRadio1 and #CityBird or text in to the show.

·         Follow her on Twitter: @budofficial https://Twitter.com/ budofficial #CityBird #MakeCityBirdFly

·         Like Bud’s Facebook page: https://facebook.com/ budofficial

·         Follow her on Instagram: @budofficial https://Instagram.com/ budofficial

·         YouTube: https://goo.gl/VWz99H  – Share her official video and subscribe to her channel

·         Shazzam the single on your smartphone

·         Stream online

·         Download from iTunes

Next Gig

Thursday 28th July, Prince of Wales, 467 Brixton Road, London

City Bird – Bud ft. Origin One will be first aired on Radio 1 from Friday 22nd July and featured on the online playlist a week prior.  The track will then be played on the following BBC Radio 1 shows:
Saturday 23rd July         Alice Levine 1300-1600
Sunday 24th July           Dev 0600-1000
Monday 25th July          Clara Amfo 1000-1300
Tuesday 26th July         Greg James 1600-1900
Wednesday 27th July     Adele Roberts 0400-0630
Thursday 28th July        Scott Mills 1300-1600

 

What’s in it for me? – The most important question in the referendum campaign

The referendum campaign demonstrates the importance of understanding the needs of your audience, writes Steve Harman, Director of SENSO Communications

We love a good election campaign at SENSO Communications. As passionate believers in the value of live debate – where the audience can hear the arguments in person and participate directly — we’ve been attending every EU referendum event we can.

They tend to follow a similar template. At the start, everyone is asked to hold up either a green card for ‘In’ or a red one for ‘Out’. The idea is to see if the balance of opinion shifts after the panellists have slugged it out. Invariably, no minds are changed – there’s always a majority of green cards both before and after the discussion. That’s because the kind of people who go to these things, particularly in London, tend to be middle class, university-educated professionals – exactly the demographic most likely to vote Yes.

The reality is that such events, enjoyable as they are, will have little or no impact on the result of the referendum. The real battle is being fought in the media (‘the air campaign’ as lovers of dramatic military metaphors like to call it) and on doorsteps (‘the ground campaign’).

The main weapon being deployed by both sides is the statistic. Many of these can be categorised as ‘extremely big number’ statistics, like “Being in the EU is worth £91 billion to our economy” or on the other side “We hand over more than £350 million a week to the EU.”

But the other, and more important, kind of figure is the one that speaks to you, the individual voter, directly. Initially it seemed that the Remain campaign was doing a far better job of generating these. The claim that dominated the early stages of the debate was that a vote for Brexit would leave every household £4,300 worse off. Not only that, they said, but the value of our homes would go down, we’d pay a fortune to use our mobiles abroad, and the football teams we support would lose their best players.

But more recently, the ‘Out’ side has been gaining traction with its own versions of these ‘what it means for you’ stories. Immigration is criticised because of the effect it has “on ordinary people.” Boris Johnson has told Sun readers that leaving the EU would scrap £60 of VAT on their fuel bills. Another claim is that European judges are forcing the UK to make huge tax refunds to multinationals – to the tune of £270.43 per household. Arguably the recent boost to the Brexiteers’ polling fortunes reflects the fact that they’ve started doing a better job of deploying these “in your pocket” figures.

Because no matter how spurious or impossible to verify these factoids are, they’re extremely effective. Recent research found that ‘Remain’ had a 19% lead in the polls if voters were told they’d be £500 better off staying in. If they were told their incomes would be unaffected the Out campaign led by 9%. That’s a staggering insight into what motivates voters. For a very large number of people, this referendum isn’t a battle of ideas or a contest for the future of British sovereignty – it’s a question of which outcome is most likely to hit them in the pocket.

That’s entirely understandable in the current economic climate. But it also says something about the UK’s pragmatic democratic culture – we’re less likely to respond to grand sweeping arguments about visions of the country’s future than we are to changes that affect us in ways we can notice – however small.

There’s a lesson here for communications professionals as well as politicians: know who you want to reach and what they care about. Whether they’re journalists, consumers, or businesses, give them information that’s interesting and meaningful to them. It sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how many PR practitioners don’t seem to get it, producing press releases full of dull information about the client, but nothing that matters to the target audience.

Ultimately, the referendum campaign will be won by whichever side does a better job of cutting through to what’s important to voters. One of the most valuable things any communicator can do is put themselves in the shoes of the audience and ask ‘What’s in it for me?’

Care for children with mental health problems is woeful, say GPs

Vulnerable young people facing wait of up to a year for specialist help, survey of doctors finds

Norman_Lamb_(2013)Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb MP

The Observer, Sunday 15 May 2016

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/may/14/children-mental-health-care-woeful-gps 

Family doctors have condemned NHS care for children with mental health problems as woefully inadequate and warned that vulnerable young people are coming to harm during waits of up to a year for specialist help.

GPs say that, although growing numbers of youngsters are struggling with crippling conditions such as anxiety and depression, many in need of urgent support are missing out because rationing of care means that they are not ill enough to qualify.

A survey of 300 GPs in England has raised particular concern about the availability of NHS help for children aged 11-18 who are self-harming. While 61% of GPs are seeing more such cases than five years ago, 83% describe services as either inadequate or totally inadequate.

Even more GPs – 86% – are worried that young people in distress are coming to harm while they wait for treatment, according to the survey conducted by stem4, a charity that helps such teenagers. “Young mental health problems are a timebomb waiting to explode,” one GP said.

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, who was the mental health minister in the coalition government, said: “These findings paint a bleak picture and accord with what GPs have told me: that when they refer children with such problems for support, too often support isn’t there at all or they meet with high thresholds which mean that children are in effect told ‘get sicker before we will help you’. Rationing of care in such a vital area of care is scandalous.”

 

View the full survey findings and report:

http://www.stem4.org.uk/images/downloads/a_time_bomb_waiting_to_explode_stem4_press_release.pdf

Family doctors fear a mental health scandal waiting to happen

nihara Dr Nihara Krause, consultant clinical psychologist and founder of stem4

The Observer, Sunday 16th May 2016

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/14/teenage-mental-health-crisis-doctors 

One in 12 UK teenagers self-harms and one in 10 is clinically depressed, yet still the NHS allocates only 11% of its budget to mental health services

Most GPs think mental health services for young people are inadequate, with nine in 10 fearing that children in their care could come to harm while waiting for specialist treatment.

Those are the worrying key findings from a survey for stem4, the charity I set up to support teenagers with mental health problems. Under pressure to achieve efficiencies, and with a reduced specialist workforce, mental health providers are applying increasingly strict criteria for access to their services.

Let’s think about what that might mean. You’re 16 and going through a tough time. At school you’re worried because your performance in pending exams determines your chances of getting to university, or to succeed in a ruthlessly tough job market…

 

Dr Nihara Krause is a consultant clinical psychologist and founder of stem4 mental health charity.

“A time bomb waiting to explode” – Survey reveals GPs’ concerns about mental health services for young people

logo

Report from mental health charity stem4 finds 78% of GPs are seeing more young patients with mental health problems

GPs fear lack of funding, specialist training and access to services is putting children at risk

Most GPs believe mental health services for young people are inadequate, with almost nine in ten fearing that children or teenagers may come to harm while waiting for specialist treatment, new research shows today.

A survey[i] for stem4, the charity which works to prevent mental ill health in teenagers, found that almost four in five (78%) GPs are seeing more young patients with mental health problems than five years ago.   Most (87%) expect pressure on services to increase.

Nearly all (97%) the doctors surveyed had seen a patient aged 11-18 suffering from depression over the past five years.   The same number (97%) said they had seen a patient experiencing self-harm, and six in ten (61%) were seeing more young patients self-harming than five years ago

However, half (50%) said they had received no specialist training on self-harm and over a third (36%) said they had received training but it was not adequate for them to feel confident supporting young patients.

The survey forms the basis of stem4’s new report ‘A Time Bomb Waiting to Explode’.   302 GPs in England were asked about their patients aged 11-18:

  • Almost eight in ten (78%) said the number of patients experiencing mental health problems had increased, either somewhat (61%) or greatly (17%), over the past five years
  • 63% had seen a young patient with an addiction problem
  • 89% had seen patients with eating disorders
  • 85% say health and social care services for children are either inadequate (59%) or extremely inadequate (26% )
  • 83% say services for young people who self-harm are either inadequate or extremely inadequate
  • Almost nine in ten (86%) had concerns about patients coming to harm while waiting for treatment
  • Most (76%) want to see increased funding for mental health, and over half (54%) want more specialist training for GPs on young people’s mental health problems

Dr Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Founder of stem 4, said:

“Young people’s mental health services are at crisis point.  GPs are having to cope with the consequences of our failure to focus on prevention, and a lack of access to specialist services.  We may not be able to change the world we have created for our young people, but we need to take action to ensure that help is available when they need it.  GPs are at the forefront of addressing this crisis and they need far more support.

“The increase in mental ill health among our young people is exacerbated by our trophy culture. They are under enormous pressure to succeed in every way, not only at school where they are constantly tested and graded, but also by endeavouring to gain social cachet by competing to be ‘followed’ and ‘liked’ on social media.”

Dr Faraz Mughal, Royal College of GPs Clinical Fellow for Youth Mental Health, said: “This report provides a worrying insight into the difficulties currently facing young people who need mental health care – and the issues faced by GPs who are trying to care for them.

“GPs are seeing more and more young patients with mental health problems, and they often present in a different way to adults when experiencing mental illness or distress, but services in the community that they could benefit from are underfunded and this invariably puts general practice under pressure and our patients’ safety at risk.

“This report brings home how important it is that family doctors receive appropriate specialist-led training in mental health, that there is more investment in mental health services right across the NHS, and that there is greater integration across health, social care, education and justice services, so that we can deliver the care and support our young patients with mental health problems need and deserve.”

The report paints a picture of patchy and underfunded services hit by shortages of specialists, long waits for treatment, and eligibility criteria so strict that GPs are deterred from making referrals.

Comments from the doctors surveyed included:

  • “Recently several parents have had to pay for private appointments so that their youngsters could receive the care they needed. These were not affluent parents, just desperate and caring.”
  • “Referrals are increasingly bounced back from secondary care with instructions to simply seek counselling”
  • “I feel mental health services for patients this age are woefully inadequate.  The few patients that we actually manage to get seen still have to wait for often over a year in order to be seen”
  • “I feel it is appalling that someone who has asked for help needs to wait up to 6 months for any intervention I can provide in a secondary setting. Only the most severe get any help at all.”
  • “Young mental health problems are a time bomb waiting to explode!”

Three quarters of the GPs surveyed (76%) said funding beyond that which has already been promised is necessary to improve mental health services for young people.  Over half (54%) said specialist training on young people’s mental health was necessary.  Most (56%) wanted to see a complete overhaul of mental health service provision.

The report calls for a greater emphasis on the identification and prevention of young people’s mental health problems at primary care level, and for more specialist training for GPs.   On 22 June, stem4 is holding a conference to provide with GPs with the latest information on dealing with mental health problems affecting children and young people.  Calm Harm, the charity’s smartphone app to help people manage the urge to self-harm, is available for free, and has been downloaded more than 14,700 times.

Notes to editors

View the full survey findings and report:

http://www.stem4.org.uk/images/downloads/a_time_bomb_waiting_to_explode_stem4_press_release.pdf

View a Q and A on self-harm and young people’s mental health services:

http://www.stem4.org.uk/images/downloads/stem4_sh_media_qa.pdf

View more about the ‘Calm Harm’ App:

http://www.stem4.org.uk/self_harm/What-is-self-harm/download-the-stem4-app.html

 

Contact

For queries or interview / case study requests, contact:

Senso Communications: www.sensocommunications.com

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[1] Survey of 302 GPs in England carried out by Research Now between 8 April and 13 April 2016