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Act now over depression

Three weeks ago, Pulse launched a major survey into access to services for treating depression. The response from GPs has been overwhelming, with well over 1,000 contacting us, many with heart-rending tales of desperate patients and overloaded counsellors.

Three weeks ago, Pulse launched a major survey into access to services for treating depression. The response from GPs has been overwhelming, with well over 1,000 contacting us, many with heart-rending tales of desperate patients and overloaded counsellors.

The results were stark. Access to psychological therapies is woefully inadequate. Waiting times stretch to many months, even years. Too often, antidepressants are the only option.

Findings from a parallel survey of primary care organisations were just as shocking, exposing gaping holes in the services they provide.

Reality, not aspiration

The White Paper on community services made the right noises about expanding access to depression services, but sidestepped demands for firm commitments. Pulse is campaigning for the Government to translate words into action, with time-scaled commitments to train 10,000 more therapists and limit waiting times to two months.

But all this will take time. Even NICE admits its guidance, urging greater use of talking therapies, represents aspiration rather than reality in the current circumstances.

The Government must issue new advice, guiding GPs on when antidepressants are appropriate and what local services are adequate substitutes for therapy. GPs need help now in managing their patients' depression.

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