Mental health: Talking therapies scheme ahead of schedule

    A mental health scheme offering low-intensity talking therapies in England is ahead of schedule, according to a government report, which has revised delivery guidance.

    Realising the Benefits shows that, under the three-year £173m Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme, the NHS will have succeeded in establishing 112 IAPT services by this spring.

    This leaves less than a quarter of primary care trusts yet to implement IAPT services. This is “significantly ahead of expectations” towards universal access in 2011-12, the report said.

    It showed that in the first year of delivery more than 100,000 people have benefited from accessing IAPT service and more than 40% have been helped towards recovery, with 2,400 people moved off sick pay and benefits.

    More than 1,500 people now in IAPT services, including more than 800 existing trainees. Recently, 750 new trainees have been recruited. The programme will train 3,600 psychological therapists.

    In the report’s foreword, NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson said: “The way the IAPT programme has been embraced by the NHS across England is inspiring. Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) have established these new services faster than planned and, as a result, more people are getting access to the help they need.”

    The report noted the impact of the recession and referred to the government’s additional £13m investment in the programme in March last year.

    It added that every stategic health authority’s IAPT delivery plan should show how current progress will be maintained for the coming year.

    The plans, which are being developed with PCTs, should also include details of how IAPT services will be established in the minority of PCTs without a service.

    Mental health problems are the largest single cause of illness and disability in England and affects one in six adults.

    It is hoped this programme will treat 900,000 more people over the three years, of which 450,000 will be cured, in line with National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines.

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