A DOCTOR'S surgery has announced it will be providing specialist treatment for mental health issues.

The Elizabeth Courtauld Surgery, in Factory Lane West, Halstead, is now offering appointments with a newly employed mental health practitioner.

The new appointment is one of a number of changes made by surgery bosses following feedback from patients.

Urgent care practitioner Lyn Scillitoe said: "People coming down to the surgery with anxiety and mental health issues have always had to see a GP first which can be difficult.

"To have an expert in the field really is fantastic news for us and huge bonus for patients.

"We have a lot of people coming through the doors for mental health reasons so this will hopefully be able to speed things up and make sure patients are getting more specific care."

Among the other alterations is a new layout to the waiting room which has been undertaken to allow better access for disabled patients and parents with pushchairs.

A new child's play corner, offering colouring and toys, has also been added to keep youngsters occupied.

Triage staff are also offering a new waiting system which means turning up for on-the-day appointments or the daily walk-in clinic will be given a specific time they are likely to be seen.

Surgery bosses say this will enable patients to leave and return for their appointment as they won't lose their place in the waiting queue.

Ms Scillitoe said: "We have had lots of really nice comments about the changes to the layout of the waiting area.

"People have also been posting some really positive things on Facebook which is nice to see.

"The changes to the triage system and team will hopefully mean patients can off and do their shopping or go home rather than wait around without knowing when they will be seen.

"We would like to reiterate though that people don't have to wait outside the surgery in the mornings.

"There seems to have been a culture develop where people start queueing outside the door but they don't need to.

"As long as they arrive before 10.30am they will be seen to."

Appointments with the mental health practitioner can be booked in person or via the phone.