• Service rated “outstanding” for effective, responsive and leadership and ”good” for safe and caring
  • Was established following an inquest into a doctor’s suicide
  • Used by around 1,500 patients a year

A health service that supports doctors and dentists with mental health problems, founded by prominent GP Clare Gerada, has received an “outstanding” rating from the Care Quality Commission, HSJ can reveal.

The CQC, which inspected the south west London-based Practitioner Health Programme in January, rated the service “outstanding” for effective, responsive and leadership and ”good” for safe and caring, according to the report seen by HSJ

Dr Gerada, who is the service’s current medical director, set up the practice in 2008. She was prompted to do so by an inquest into the suicide of doctor Daksha Emson that identified a need for dedicated support to clinicians with mental health issues that felt they could not approach their own GPs for fear it would affect their careers. 

The CQC said PHP’s management team “had identified a need for this service” and ”personally dedicated themselves to ensuring that this need was recognised and addressed”.

Inspectors also praised the culture at PHP, which drove the delivery and improvement of care, and “a strong commitment to sharing learning externally”.

However, the CQC identified one area “where the provider should make improvements”, saying it needs to put in place process “to regularly monitor that safety checks have been completed at remote sites”.

The Practitioner Health Programme operates from its own medical centre in Wandsworth and other services’ locations around England and hosts a multidisciplinary team made up of GPs, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, and cognitive behavioural therapists. It is used by around 1,500 patients a year.

The service is part of the Hurley Group, a primary care provider serving more than 100,000 patients across England.

Dr Gerada said: “I think 20 years after the death of Dr Emson, it is a testament to her memory that a service like PHP has been running for 10 years and has received an ‘outstanding’ rating.”

Dr Gerada was recently appointed co-chair of the newly established NHS assembly, which was set up to advise on the implementation of the long-term plan. She has been a vocal critic of the Lansley reforms of 2010-13.