Peer bids to win backing for talking therapies after white paper setback

The Labour peer behind the government’s talking therapies policy has called for a political campaign to convince ministers to invest heavily in the programme.

Lord Layard, who in September called for 10,000 therapists to be recruited, told Community Care the issue had to be pushed more if it were to be a priority in next year’s comprehensive spending review.

The government disappointed some campaigners when it announced in the health and social care white paper that pilots to test the effectiveness of psychological therapies would be run in just two areas.

Layard, who prepared a paper on talking therapies for the Number 10 Policy Unit last year, said the debate was still in its early stages and the case for investment was still to be  won.
An announcement on the pilots had been expected last autumn.

Layard said there had been a pause in the development of the policy because of the spending difficulties in the NHS, but it was important that it regained momentum as soon as possible.

He said: “I think it’s really important that everyone who cares about this helps to mobilise the political support for the expansion of therapy as one of the most important things we can do in this country to relieve misery.”

Layard also said it would be a “terrible mistake” if the scheme were put together using only existing structures and budgets, rather than being properly planned and resourced.

He called for an “ambitious” project which would be rolled out over seven years, consisting of teams of therapists led by senior practitioners.

It is understood that the two areas earmarked for the pilots are Newham in east London and Doncaster.

A Department of Health spokesperson said an announcement about the pilots would be made soon.


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