GPs launch campaign for better access to psychological therapies

A survey by the Royal College of GPs has found that just 15% of GPs can “usually get psychological therapy for adults who need it within two months of referral.”

The survey was carried out as part of a new campaign calling for better access to psychological therapies. Launched at Westminster this week, the campaign has challenged all of the political parties to make a guarantee in their election manifestos to offer, within five years, evidence-based psychological therapies to all those who need them within 28 days of requesting referral.

RCGP Chairman Professor Steve Field said: “Patients are entitled to the treatments which NICE recommends. There has been substantial improvement in the last few years but there is a long way to go. It is essential that the current programme of Improved Access to Psychological Therapy is completed in the next Parliament with adequate funding for training and for employing extra therapists. The same is needed for children (the survey revealed that only 6% of GPs can usually get psychological therapy for children who need it within eight weeks of referral). Even if there is a financial squeeze, the evidence is that this will save the country money.”

Professor Lord Layard, Programme Director for Wellbeing at the London School of Economics, urged the importance of improved access for patients. He said: “Mental illness is perhaps the greatest single cause of misery in our country. For those who experience it, the least we should offer is the same standard of care we would automatically provide if they had a physical illness. Politicians who committed to this would receive a huge vote of thanks from millions of families in this country.”

In a statement made to BBC News a Department of Health Spokesperson said: “There is still work to do and we will work closely with the Royal College of GPs and others to achieve this.”

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