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PCTs cutting mental health funding to deliver IAPT

By Mark Pownall

PCTs are paying for the Government’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme by cutting other elements of mental health funding, a charity has warned.

Since April, trusts have received IAPT funding as part of their baseline budgets, rather than as direct Department of Health grants to pilot areas, as previously.

But the mental health charity Mind says the lack of ringfencing of funds means IAPT has begun edging out existing talking treatments in some areas.

In Buckinghamshire, services have been cut following a decision by the local PCT to de-commission all adult counselling services. The only talking treatments now on offer in the community are IAPT services, largely CBT-based.

Mariam Kemple, Mind’s policy and campaigns officer, said: ‘Often IAPT hasn’t been placed alongside, it’s been placed on top of the existing service. It may even be that the amount of therapy that’s been offered has actually been reduced because it’s just the IAPT model.’

‘We are hearing from GPs that they are getting rid of their in-house counsellors because of an IAPT programme coming in. That wasn’t what IAPT was meant to do, it was meant to be additional.’

Dr Paul Roblin, chief executive of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire LMC, told Pulse: ‘All stand-alone services have been cut, although there are plans to introduce some general counselling as part of the IAPT services alongside CBT.’

Carolyn Smyth, chief executive of Buckinghamshire Mind, said: ‘Since April 1, all the adult counselling services have been shut down. GPs tell us that it leaves a big hole in provision and feel they haven’t been consulted.’

‘It’s always a concern that when PCTs are financially stretched, mental health is a soft target.’

A DH spokesperson said, ‘Trusts are given extra money to ensure they have IAPT services in place, or at least will have in 2010/11. The Department of Health is monitoring this through benchmarking reports and working with the heads of local health authorities to ensure the IAPT programme is delivered.’

IAPT has begun edging out existing talking therapies in some areas IAPT has begun edging out existing talking therapies in some areas Talk and deliver: what IAPT is expected to provide by October 2011

• All PCTs providing IAPT-style services
• 900,000 more people to have had psychological therapies
• 450,000 people in treatment ‘moving to recovery’
• 25,000 fewer people on sick pay and benefits