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Independents' Day

Therapy hailed as employment key

The Department of Health has hailed talking therapies as key to cutting worklessness through mental illness after releasing the first outcome data from its much-trumpeted pilot sites.

Preliminary figures show the two pilots in Doncaster and Newham have improved outcomes in about half of patients, with the Newham pilot cutting worklessness by 10 per cent.

The figures came as the Tories announced the number of people claiming incapacity benefit because of mental illness had reached a record 1.1million.

The success of the pilots will continue to pile the pressure on the Treasury to announce a dramatic expansion in access to psychological therapies in its comprehensive spending review later this year.

A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said a Treasury review on mental health and employment outcomes would report in March.

Dr Anurag Sinha, a GP in Newham PCT and clinical lead in mental health for the trust, said his practice had provided cognitive behavioural therapy to some 600 patients since July.

He said: 'Who are the ones who write the sick notes, who do the mental health reviews and assessments? GPs. Primary care is absolutely the place that this therapy should be done.'

Dr Richard Byng, a GPSI in mental health in Plymouth, said: 'It's a good idea to look at expanding a range of therapies to help people back into work.'

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