The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the British Medical Association (BMA) have stated that GPs lack the support needed to treat people who suffer from eating disorders. The reasons for this include the limited time that GPs have to see their patients as well as the lack of relevant training. More investment in mental health training has been done, as well as the plans to improve GP training.
Lack of Resources
Time is a resource that GPs, unfortunately, don’t currently have. They have an allocated slot of 10 minutes per patient but it simply is not enough time for the patient and doctor to discuss symptoms and any concerns. Having time constraints risks vital information being missed out.
GPs have to have a broad knowledge base and do not have an in-depth knowledge of the conditions they are diagnosing. On the other hand, specialist doctors in hospitals have undergone much more thorough training and are therefore very well informed on the conditions they are managing. GPs would benefit from additional training to allow more thorough consultations and earlier identification of more complex conditions such as mental illnesses.
There are a wide range of eating disorders that present with different symptoms. They are often linked to other physical and mental health problems meaning they are often masked and not addressed. Doctors need to take a holistic approach to provide the best care for their patients.
You are a GP who is in a consultation with a 55-year-old woman who has been diagnosed with cancer and she is visibly upset and scared of what might happen. However, you have gone over the 10-minute slot and the next patient is a 25-year-old man who has been diagnosed with clinical depression and you know he really needs to be seen in order to see all the patients for the day. What would you do?