Traditionally, general practitioners and psychiatrists relate to one another through a system of cross referrals, from primary care to secondary care and back again, the referral being initiated by the GP through a request for a domiciliary visit or more usually for an out-patient assessment of the clinical problem. However, in the mid-1960s, individual psychiatrists began to report a new way of working, which consisted of the psychiatrist going by invitation into GPs' surgeries or health centres to work directly with the general practitioners and with other members of the primary health care team. A survey undertaken by Strathdee & Williams of the General Practice Research Unit of the Institute of Psychiatry, showed that by 1984 in England and Wales, one psychiatric consultant in five, sometimes with, sometimes without, junior staff, spent some time in a general practice setting. At the College meeting in Cambridge (April 1988), Pullen reported that in Scotland a similar survey showed that as many as 40 to 50% of psychiatric consultants spent some time in primary care settings.
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