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CBT rollout fears

The Government has injected fresh impetus into its rollout of psychological therapies with the announcement of 11 new pathfinder sites – but is facing accusations of providing therapy on the cheap.

New mental health minister Ivan Lewis gave the go-ahead for the 11 sites – one more than initially planned – to offer therapy to patients with mild depression and anxiety.

The new sites will widen the strict focus on people of working age in the earlier pilots, with Bury PCT to concentrate on young people and Hertfordshire PCT to focus on postnatal care and long-term conditions.

But the rollout, which Mr Lewis said was the beginning of ‘a radical overhaul of mental health services', was overshadowed by reports of dramatic falls in training places for clinical psychologists.

Figures from the British Psychological Society showed the intake of clinical psychologists in September last year fell by as much as 20% in some SHAs, and was only now returning to the preceding year's levels.

Mr Tim Cate, chair of the society's clinical psychology division, accused ministers of using cheaper, less qualified mental health workers to deliver therapy.

‘The direct work will mainly be done by lower-band workers. I see no evidence at all of a recruitment drive for clinical psychologists,' he said.

He added that there was an ‘anxiety' that the quality of cognitive behaviour therapy might not be sufficient to deliver the benefits predicted by Lord Layard in his influential Depression Report.

‘Psychological therapy in the wrong hands can be as dangerous as someone giving out the wrong medicine,' he said.

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