Efficacy supports GPs in challenging times with online therapy service

Leading CBT firm uses digital platform and programmes to deliver mental health support to doctors using the GP Health Service

A leading mental health service is using the digital mental health platform developed by SilverCloud Health to support a confidential NHS service for GPs in England.

London-based Efficacy is offering doctors using the GP Health Service access to the SilverCloud platform, on which there are more than 30 programmes, to improve mental health and related conditions.

The GP Health Service was established in 2013 by Lucy Warner and Dr Clare Gerada, a general practice leader who has just been appointed as co-chair of the NHS Assembly.

It aims to help doctors with mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, lack of sleep or addiction, and uses Efficacy, which is recognised as the leading provider of psychological assessment and treatment, for its therapeutic support services. Efficacy, in turn, is working with SilverCloud so GPs can access their mental health and wellbeing programmes when they need them.

Lee Grant, the founder and clinical director of Efficacy, and a practicing CBT therapist, said: “A busy GP, working 8am to 8pm with a family at home, might not be able to make a face-to-face therapy session. The SilverCloud platform makes it possible for them to access the service; and the great thing is that we have found it to be as effective as one-to-one therapy.

“When we asked one of our patients why that was, they said it was because they could access their programme when they needed to. Therapy is not just what happens ‘in therapy’ but the structure around it; and that is very explicit with SilverCloud.”

Efficacy is a firm of independent CBT psychotherapists that holds contracts with insurers, companies and NHS trusts that use its BABCP-accredited consultants to provide psychological services to staff and patients. It has been shown to have an 87% recovery rate for people who complete therapy with them.

“The SilverCloud platform was chosen because of its breadth and depth of engaging mental health content programmes and support, and also because of its extensive research and evidence-base,” commented Dr Derek Richards CSO, SilverCloud Health.

Efficacy also provides CBT services for the NHS Practitioner Health Programme, which was set up to support hospital doctors in 2008, and the GP Health Service, which was subsequently set up by the same team to work with GPs and GP trainees.

The GP Health Service refers GPs to Efficacy, which assesses the referrals to determine the most appropriate channel through which to deliver CBT: face to face, over the phone, or online using the SilverCloud platform with the support of a senior accredited therapist.

A review of the service established that GPs are very happy with the service. One told Efficacy: “The online CBT was effective. The supporter worked well – reliable and a good listening ear.”

Efficacy was shortlisted for its work with the NHS Practitioner Health Programme in the ‘best healthcare provider partnership’ category of the HSJ Partnership Awards 2019. It is looking to extend its use of the SilverCloud platform to GHP later this year.

Lloyd Humphreys, Head of Europe for SilverCloud Health, said: “Efficacy is a quite exceptional service that gets remarkable results. It is therefore an achievement that they have decided to use our platform to offer digital programmes to clinicians who need them.

“We all know that the NHS is doing an incredible job, often under enormous pressure in difficult circumstances as highlighted in Pulse’s GP Workload Survey which showed that GPs are working an average of 11 hours per day with them believing they are working beyond their capacity. This can have the consequence of increasing levels of stress experienced making it imperative to support and make sure clinicians are looked after properly.

“Along with a host of other initiatives being delivered by the NHS, Efficacy’s use of the SilverCloud platform will make sure that timely and effective support is provided for doctors using the GP Health Service. The impact of protecting the workforce is wide-ranging and SilverCloud is proud to support any initiative that does just that.”

The need for services like this has been evidenced in recent reports. For example, in the latest NHS Staff Survey, two in five (39.8%) NHS staff in England reported that they felt unwell from the stress of their job in the previous year; the highest figure for five years.

In addition, a survey by the Royal College of General Practitioners, conducted at the end of last year, indicated that a third of GPs hope to exit their jobs in the next five years, with stress cited as the most common reason, alongside retirement.


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