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Most psychiatrists who visit health centres use the shifted outpatient clinic model, the main aim of which is to improve secondary care by providing it in the primary care setting. For five years we have employed a liaison-attachment scheme in which support and advice from the psychiatrist enables general practitioners to improve their care of patients with psychiatric and psychological problems. One of the advantages of the latter model is that the psychiatrist can contribute to the care of patients not seen by the specialist psychiatric service and also to the development of the primary care team. The scheme is cost effective as psychiatrists can advise on the care of far more patients than they could see in formal referrals, fewer patients are taken on for a course of psychiatric treatment that could be provided by general practitioners and the skills of general practitioners and their trainees are enhanced. It is hoped that more general practitioners will adopt this pattern of working so that it can be fully developed and evaluated.