Mental health services in the UK National Health Service have evolved to include primary-care generalist, secondary-care generalist and secondary-care specialist services. We argue that there continues to be an important role for the secondary-care generalists as they minimise interfaces, can live with diagnostic uncertainty and support continuity of care. The lack of commissioning and clinical boundaries in secondary-care generalist services can undermine their feasibility, leading to difficulties recruiting and retaining staff. There is a risk of a polo-mint service, where the specialist services on the edge are well resourced, but the secondary-care generalist services taking the greatest burden struggle to recruit and retain clinicians. We need to establish equity in resources and expectations between generalist and specialist mental health services.
Declaration of interest