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GPs set to lead £100m CBT scheme

GPs are to be trained up as champions of depression care as part of a multimillion-pound plan to roll out psychological therapies across the country.

The Department of Health has applied for funding 'in the order of hundreds of millions of pounds' from the Treasury for a GP-led programme of therapy, Pulse can reveal.A senior source within the department told Pulse ministers had applied for the funding as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review, due to report in October.If funding is granted, it will be a huge victory for Pulse's Action on Depression campaign.Health secretary Patricia Hewitt confirmed the announcement this week of 10 further pathfinder projects, as Pulse exclusively revealed in March. These psychological therapy pilots, which follow the success of programmes in Doncaster and Newham, will receive £2m in funding.Ms Hewitt told the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies conference in London last week: 'I am pleased to announce the next phase in the programme, with the establishment of 10 more PCT-led demonstration sites across England. We have a vision that one day people will have the choice of quickly and conveniently accessing a range of psychological therapy services.'Each of the 10 pilots will have a GP trained with funding secured from the Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP) to act as PCT leads, working in multidisciplinary teams.Dr Alan Cohen, senior clinical adviser to CSIP and a GP in Wimbledon, south-west London, is leading the programme.He told Pulse the training programme would depend on the needs and expertise of the 10 GPs involved, but all would need to be 'keen and enthusiastic' – though not necessarily GPSIs.'We want to keep GPs as what they are good at being – generalists. We will be training them in how to offer medication, advice and managing long-term conditions, and engaging local teams to provide specialist advice to people who are not appropriate for secondary care but still have quite complicated conditions.'Dr John Hague, a GPSI in mental health in Ipswich, said the idea of having a GP lead in each pilot area was 'brilliant'.'It's immensely important to support people through the development of the pathways sites, and broaden the impact and benefits of psychological therapies.'

lanekwe@cmpmedica.com

• More on depression and talking therapies at searchmedica.co.uk

How the therapy pilots will work

Focus will be on adults of working age, to relieve illness, improve their ability to work and reduce dependence on benefits.

• mothers with antenatal and postnatal depression• psychological problems in older people• emotional and behavioural disorders in children and young people• culturally appropriate services for black and ethnic minority communities• improving the mental health of people with long-term conditions • reducing mental ill-health among offenders.Source: Department of Health

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