New line of support for Great Southern GPs 

Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Kelly Ridley is one of the mental health professionals available through the GP Psychiatry Support Line.  (Supplied: WA Primary Health Alliance)

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Great Southern general practitioners now have access to on-the-spot advice from local psychiatrists in a move to help regional GPs treat mental health issues. 

The GP Psychiatry Support Line was launched by WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) and WA Country Health Service (WACHS) this week and aims to keep regional patients under the care of their GP. 

The service allows Great Southern GPs access to a support line for advice relating to the assessment, care and management of patients with mental health issues. 

Great Southern psychiatrists Associate Professor Mathew Coleman, Dr Kelly Ridley and Dr Hugh Simpson are available via the new support line.

WAPHA’s Lesley Pearson said it is important GPs feel supported when providing quality mental health care.

“General practitioners play a vital role in providing mental health care to the community and manage the majority of people who present to health services with mental health issues,” she said. 

“This initiative was developed with local GPs, who feel the support line will help them to get treatment underway more efficiently and effectively.”

Professor Coleman, who is also the Great Southern’s Mental Health Service Clinical Director, said the service would strengthen the professional relationship between GPs and psychiatrists. 

“The new service enhances the expert care received in primary care, whilst facilitating best practice standards and care across the region,” he said. 

“This service is staffed by local psychiatrists who know the local context and ensures input into patient care is timely and responsive to their needs. It also ensures specialised support is available in the most accessible way.” 

Funded by the Federal Government, the support line will be evaluated over the next 18 months. 

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