Doctor reveals ‘huge’ changes in number of patients in Notts with mental health problems

A Nottinghamshire doctor has spoken of “huge” changes in the number of patients seeking help for mental health problems during the pandemic.

Wednesday, 5th January 2022, 9:42 am

GP Dr Jeremy Griffiths told Nottinghamshire Council’s health scrutiny committee about the ‘single most significant public health disaster and emergency in our lifetime’.

The Nottinghamshire health and wellbeing board vice-chairman described one day at work when three patients in a row voiced thoughts of suicide, saying it is a ‘disaster’ that some doctors are retiring early due to the pressures of the job.

Dr Griffiths said: “We have certainly seen huge significant changes in the amount of mental health problems we have had.

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County Hall, Nottinghamshire Council's headquarters in West Bridgford.

“I remember sitting in one surgery and having three consecutive patients talk to me about wanting to kill themselves

“That’s hard to deal with, that was the reality of the situation.”

Dr Griffiths described the pressures on doctors dealing with up to 50 patients a day during a 10-hour session at his surgery.

He said: “That is an intense session, it is hard. People come away from that feeling exhausted. There is an element of pandemic fatigue out there.

“We’ve got to work out how we retain our GP,s as we don’t want people walking away.

“I know people retiring early because they find the intensity too hard and that’s a disaster.”

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Pressures

He said GPs were tasked with changing the way they operated ‘almost overnight’ at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “That’s against a background of the situation where a full-time GP is expected to look after about 2,000 patients, an increasingly ageing population, increasing numbers of long-term conditions and we have about a quarter of our GP workforce over the age of 55.

“We are now trying to provide our services, reacting to the demands of the pandemic and be mindful of long-term conditions.”

Dr Griffiths said about 40 per cent of patients at his practice now have face-to-face appointments – but calls and texts are also used.

He said: “There are certain things we would have originally brought people in for, but we don’t bring them in at this moment.

“I am hoping we will get through the worst of Omicron over the next few months and then move towards a situation where we will enable more people to book face-to-face appointments.”

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