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Crisis in depression care set to deepen

GPs face a worsening crisis over access to talking therapies because of 'unprecedented' cuts in training places for clinical psychologists.

Waiting times for CBT are set to spiral further after training places for therapists were cut by up to 20 per cent in some areas, the health select committee of MPs heard.

Mental health experts said the figures exposed as nonsense the Government's claim to be bringing the 'end of the Prozac nation' by improving access to therapy.

The British Psychological Society submitted evidence to the committee warning of a 'bleak future' without urgent action ­ after reporting a 5 per cent cut in training places across England and Wales in 2006.

It follows a slowing in growth of training places over the previous two years, with rises of just 5 per cent, compared with a Government target to increase numbers by 15 per cent annually to match demand.

Ray Miller, president of the society, said: 'This situation is unprecedented ­ it is the first cut in training places in clinical psychology training in 20 years.

'The DoH appears to be cutting back on the very people who should be available to support its stated policy aims.'

The warning adds weight to Pulse's 'Action on Depression' campaign, which appeared to be gaining some ground this week (see below).

It came as the department revealed 11 out of 84 mental health trusts had been forced into budget cuts ­ amounting to £16.4million ­ over the 2005/6 financial year.

Professor Graham Turpin, vice-chair of the division of clinical psychology at the society, said: 'Access to services will be even more restricted and patients will have less choice and may well have longer waiting lists.'

Dr Ian Walton, a GPSI in mental health in Tipton, West Midlands, and chair of Primary Care Mental Health and Education, said: 'It's a sad fact that mental health services are being mugged because of overspends in the acute sector.'

nhairon@cmpi.biz

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