"Mental health referral"

About: Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust / Adult mental health

(as the patient),

I have recently been trying to contact my GP regarding mental health issues. the only way to get referred to the CMHT (community mental health team) is via the GP.

However, as my usual doctor is on holiday I was unable to speak to them, also I have been unable to get to the doctors surgery in question due to anxiety, fear, and feeling I cannot control myself in that situation if they are dismissive of me (as they often are).

I used to have a friend supporting me with going to appointments however they are very ill themselves and now being supported by me - an extra stress.

I am very concerned that the recent changes/stressful events/lack of support in my life has been entirely ignored by the mental health team and GP, despite being taken to A&E on several occasions including once under section by police.

After contacting the primary care trust, I was finally able to speak to a doctor on the phone, and asked to be re-referred to the CMHT. Incredibly, the doctor I spoke to didn't even know who/what the CMHT was! I actually had to explain it to them.

I usually refuse to see this particular doctor as I feel they are dismissive, unprofessional, uncaring and knows nothing about mental health - shocking as most people with depression are only under the care of their GP.

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Response from Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

You are entitled to ask for a referral for specialist assessment/treatment on the NHS. You will need to see your GP if you wish to be referred to Community Mental Health Services. All your medical records are held by your GP who understands your health history and treatments better than anyone. Therefore, your GP can decide whether a specialist referral is necessary and, if so, can recommend what service to refer you to. Access to Community Mental Health Services can also come from, NTW’s Crisis service, A&E or other statutory agencies such as the Local Authority or Primary Care Trust.

Your GP and other referral routes are important for Community Teams as they are in the best possible position to provide information about the patient, i.e. diagnosis, presenting features, any risks, past mental health problems, current treatments and any relevant past treatments. This allows the Community Teams to pitch their response to the referral at the correct level. It will determine the urgency of the referral and whether or not a home of clinic based appointment is required. Self Help advice is also available on NTW’s website, government and many statutory health and social care sites.


Don Stronach

Service Manager

Planned Care Group

Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust

Update posted by earthbound misfit (the patient)

What an unhelpful reply!

Statements like "your GP can decide whether a specialist referral is necessary and, if so, can recommend what service to refer you to" doesn't go any way to addressing the problem in hand. Namely, that the GP I spoke to DIDN'T know who to refer me to. Yes, he should have known, that was my point - but he didn't. This gap in knowledge is a concern not only for me but for anyone else with mental health problems who atteneds the surgery.

The reasons I did not see the GP in person are outlined in my comment - and now my own GP is back from annual leave I have spoken to him over the phone and been referred to the CMHT. So the problem has been resolved to some extent.

However, your response did nothing to address my other concern re. the crisis team failing to recognise a (stressful, mental health deteriorating) change in circumstances. I notice you don't provide a follow-up telephone number, and your response seems pretty standardised. This is not helpful in the slightest when there are real people suffering at the other end.

I hope to God I finally get some therapy so I can get better and leave the lot of you behind.