Policy guru delivers a blueprint for immediate roll-out of therapies

The architect of the government’s talking therapy pilot programme has called for 40 new therapy services to be opened each year from now until 2013.

Economist and Labour peer Lord Layard said a national 600m network of 250 therapy centres should be developed over the next seven years, in a blueprint published this week.

The government is currently piloting an expanded talking therapy services in Doncaster and Newham, east London. If the demonstration sites are successful the Department of Health will make a bid at the 2007 spending review for further funding to back a national roll-out.

But in the report, Layard and other members of the London School of Economics’ mental health policy group said the case for making therapy available to all who needed it was “overwhelming”. They said the investment would be offset by incapacity benefit savings as people returned to work.

The report won the backing of charities Mind, Rethink, the Mental Health Foundation and the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, which issued a joint statement calling for therapy to be made available to all who need it.

Layard denied being frustrated at the progress of the policy, saying it had been slowed down by the delay in the spending review from 2006 to 2007, but that could be positive.
“It does give us a better chance to build a really high quality system that makes sense,” he said.

Layard told the NHS Confederation conference last week that the government would not fund a national roll-out unless there was a clamour for it and the report urged people to contact their MPs demanding action.

The study recommended the centres be developed by central government and kept separate from mental health trusts. But services would be put out to tender, with trusts among those best placed to bid.

It recommended that 10,000 new therapists be trained primarily to deliver cognitive behavioural therapy, with half being clinical psychologists and half drawn from the ranks of social workers, nurses, counsellors and occupational therapists.

A DH spokesperson accepted that access to therapy was limited in some areas but said the pilots would provide tangible evidence of the effectiveness of investing in it.

See Lack of talking therapies highlights dilemma over children’s Prozac use

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.