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Mental health LESs axed

By Lilian Anekwe

Exclusive: PCTs are cutting LES funding for counselling and other mental health services, a Pulse investigation reveals.

Our analysis of data obtained from 129 English PCTs under the Freedom of Information Act show nearly a third of trusts providing a mental health LES last year have decided to stop funding them.

Of the 17 trusts who had mental health LESs in place in 2009/10, five said they would not continue funding beyond the last financial year and GPs in these areas have not received any funding since April.

NHS South Gloucestershire scrapped its depression LES, while NHS City and Hackney axed its mental health LES. PCTs in Bristol, Bournemouth and Somerset all cut their LESs that had provided counselling services for people with depression, mental illnesses and drug abuse.

A spokesperson for NHS South Gloucestershire said: ‘We did have a LES with GPs with a value of approximately £100,000. This was discontinued when we significantly increased the amount we spend on primary mental health services to approximately £1.2 million. Services are now delivered through an IAPT programme and counselling services delivered by other providers.'

A spokesperson for NHS City and Hackney said: ‘A review by the commissioning of primary care board, which includes GPs in its membership, came to the conclusion that there was an overlap with QOF. Depression in 2010-11 is covered under QOF.'

Since April trusts have received funding from the Department of Health to set up IAPT services as part of their baseline budgets, rather than as direct DH grants to pilot areas as previously. Mental health campaign groups have warned that the lack of ringfenced funds meant existing talking treatments and counselling services are being edged out in some areas.

Dr Sue Roberts, vice chair of Somerset LMC and a GP in Bridgwater, Somerset, said: 'We recognise that cuts have to be made in some areas but we have concerns about theimpact that will have on patient care.'

Mental health LESs axed

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