Strategic health authorities look set to take the lead in the £170m development of talking therapy services across England, announced yesterday by the Department of Health.
Speaking at Community Care LIVE Children and Families, Matt Fossey, deputy director of the DH’s National Choice and Access Team, which is responsible for developing the therapy programme, said the department was considering distributing the money through SHAs.
He said SHAs would be in charge of commissioning and training therapists to equip with them the skills to carry out a range of interventions for people with depression or anxiety.
The DH aims to treat an extra 900,000 people over the next three years by training an additional 3,600 therapists. It claims that half of the 900,000 will not require further treatment for common mental health problems, while the number on sick pay or benefits will fall by 25,000 as a result of the programme.
Fossey said primary care trusts will collect data over the first year on services and service users to establish a baseline to track year-on-year improvements.
He added: “We have been given a real platform to start delivering on the aspirations we’ve had for a number of years.”
He described the government’s announcement yesterday as “fantastic and unprecedented”.
Fossey added that the DH hoped that an increase in talking therapies would reduce the pressure on specialist mental health services and help to achieve the 18-week waiting time target for acute and mental health services.
He added that “outrageous” mental health waiting times needed to be tackled.
National Choice and Access Team