Health staff in Broxtowe and Mansfield are the first in England to complete an NHS course for Mental Health Occupational Therapists and Clinical Care Home Leads working in primary care. Congratulations to Tracey Evans, Naomi Cummins, and Catherine Seals who successfully completed the course at the University of Salford in July 2023.

All three trailblazers are employed by Primary Integrated Community Services (PICS), a local provider of NHS services.

Naomi is one of our Clinical Care Home Leads, supporting patients in care homes to ensure they get the care they need from the appropriate clinicians.

Tracey and Catherine are Mental Health Occupational Therapists. They focus on how mental health may be affecting a person’s daily life. People experiencing anxiety, low mood and difficulty manging emotions are supported to develop motivation, increase interest levels and re-engage in hobbies and important roles within life.

Patients would usually need to see a doctor and then wait for a referral to specialists like Tracey and Catherine. But now, specially trained reception staff in General Practice surgeries can book appointments directly with a Mental Health Occupational Therapist straight away, within the Practice.

It’s all part of a new NHS approach offering patients the right care in the right place and at the right time.

The NHS course, known as the First Contact Practitioner Roadmap, delivers an induction for experienced clinicians who are new to primary care. Desi Gillespie, Clinical Lead for Occupational Therapists in PICS, explains:

“The Roadmap has been a beneficial tool to upskill these clinicians to the demands of primary care. They develop a broader understanding of patients’ healthcare needs to ensure every contact counts when they come to the GP surgery or in the care home environment.

“It is an exciting time in primary care as we provide more specialist clinicians who see patients at their first contact with their GP surgery.

“Over the last 18 months, patients have been getting a good occupational therapy assessment and intervention from their first appointment. We also have Clinical Care Home Leads who use their extensive knowledge and assessment skills to assess patients from a multi-system point of view. This helps free up GP time for more complex cases, and provides more personalised care for individuals, close to home.”

PICS was the first in England to recruit Mental Health Occupational Therapy roles in early 2022. The service is commissioned by Primary Care Networks, which are new partnerships between GP surgeries that create local health and wellbeing services.

PICS now employs Mental Health Occupational Therapists across general practice surgeries in south Mansfield, Broxtowe, Hucknall and Arnold. Find out more about the Mental Health Occupational Therapy service from PICS.

Find out more about the NHSE roadmap: Roadmaps to Practice | Health Education England (