Observations Body Politic

Talking therapies: can the centre hold?

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d1459 (Published 09 March 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1459
  1. Nigel Hawkes, freelance journalist, London
  1. nigel.hawkes1{at}btinternet.com

Can centralised programmes provide better care more cheaply? Nigel Hawkes cuts through the spin surrounding one such mental heath programme

At a time when centrally driven initiatives in healthcare are out of fashion, one at least survives—improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT). Inherited from the last government and backed strongly by the new one in spite of its commitment to localism, this programme aims to make talking therapies for depression and anxiety universally available throughout England.

But in spite of strong support for it in the recently published mental health strategy, all is not quite as rosy as the health minister Paul Burstow would wish. Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader (isn’t it marvellous how top politicians can always find the time in their busy lives to announce good news?), promised an additional £400m for the programme to complete the training of therapists and the roll out of the programme to the whole of England by March 2015.

But it wasn’t long before a row broke out. Professor David Richards of the University of Exeter, an adviser to the programme, told the Guardian that the government was misrepresenting the financial commitment “to shore up their very poor opinion poll ratings,” and was promptly removed …

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