NHS failing on psychological therapies, claim charities

The NHS is failing to provide psychological therapies to people with mental health problems, even though recommended to do so, claim mental health charities.

The government has announced, however, that a new Doncaster pilot scheme to improve access to psychological therapies has seen 1000 people in three months since its launch.

Three years ago the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommended offering psychological therapies, particularly cognitive behaviour therapy, to people diagnosed with depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

But a Healthcare Commission survey of over 8,000 people in hospital based mental health services in England in 2005 found just 39 per cent had such “talking treatment”.

The charities, including Mind and Rethink, also cite a study of acute psychiatric inpatient services in 2004 which found that just one ward in five regularly offers psychological therapies to patients.

The charities’ report, We Need to Talk, argues that psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy are as important for the nation’s health as a cancer drug or surgery.

The report recommends the government’s 2007 comprehensive spending review provide for improved access to talking therapies.

The Doncaster pilot psychological therapies scheme is one of two in England set up in May this year. The other is in Newham, east London.

They were established to improve access to psychological treatments for people with mental health problems.

In September last year government adviser Lord Richard Layard said ministers were “devoted to the idea” of the NHS employing up to 10,000 extra therapists in 250 new treatment centres to tackle depression and anxiety.

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