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CBT access cuts consultations

Improving access to talking therapies and supporting application of the NICE stepped-care model can dramatically cut GP consultations for depression.

A programme to help GPs work more effectively with therapists and specialists cut GP depression consultations by 14% – equivalent to 4,084 hours of GP time – over two years.Consultations with other general practice staff were down 16%, referrals to the acute sector fell by 65% and 32% fewer patients required sicknotes for more than 13 weeks.Speaking last week at the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies conference in London, health secretary Patricia Hewitt said: 'If the results could be replicated across the country, it could dramatically lower the number of people who are unable to participate in life the way they would like to.'Dr Alan Cohen, the programme's clinical chair, said: 'The results are very encouraging. This has significant financial benefits for the individual and national economy. It's a win-win situation.'The National Primary Care Mental Health Collaborative was launched last year and involves 420 GPs caring for 768,000 people in 19 PCTs.

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