The new mental health primary care workers, announced in 2000, will
be additional members of staff and will not jeopardise the jobs of
current employees, the government has confirmed.
Guidance from the National Institute for Mental Health in England
and the Department of Health acknowledges the concerns by some
staff who fear their roles may be undermined by the new
It states that “there is no intention for new graduate workers to
replace existing staff or duplicate provision that is already being
The guidance aims to help primary care trusts implement the
proposals set out in the NHS Plan to appoint at least 1,000 new
graduate primary care workers by 2004, and improve support for
people with common mental disorders.
Trusts will be given extra money for the new workers in the next
financial year – enough to employ two or three in each area.
The graduate workers are likely to help in improving referrals and
in providing information to patients and families.
They could also provide low-intensity support, develop databases of
local mental health services and supplement services for service
users from ethnic minorities.
“There may also be value in graduate primary care workers having a
more active role in liaising with charitable and voluntary sector
services,” says the guidance.
Training is likely to be on a one-year programme at postgraduate
certificate level, with psychology graduates making up a possible
pool of candidates.