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Mental Health Services

Volume 498: debated on Wednesday 28 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether any NHS counselling services have been discontinued as a result of the implementation of his Department's Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Programme. (296286)

Primary care trust (PCT) commissioners are responsible for assessing local need and deciding the types and amounts of various national health service psychological therapy services required in their area.

However, the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme envisages a long term need for counselling services and has, therefore, not issued guidance encouraging decommissioning of counselling services or recommending that counsellors should retrain.

The funding committed for IAPT services by the Government is in addition to those counselling and talking therapy services locally funded and delivered. Some PCTs have moved to invest further in IAPT services and to use IAPT as a method of broadening the range of therapies offered to local people.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to increase access to NHS counselling services during the economic downturn. (296287)

In March 2009 a package of measures to help people who are experiencing emotional problems linked to employment or debt issues linked to the downturn was announced by the Secretary of State for Health and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Specifically the aim was to help people overcome the negative psychological impact of job loss or debt, so that they can better tackle their financial issues. The package also included greater provision of talking therapies and a new network of employment support workers.

Investment of an extra £13 million has been made available to fund:

a faster roll-out of talking therapy services around the country throughout 2009 with services beginning to be available in every area by 2010;

employment support workers linked to every talking therapy services, providing job support for people with common mental health problems to help people back to work;

health advisers on a dedicated NHS Direct phone line being trained to spot people who might be experiencing depression because of economic problems and refer them to help; and

better online advice and information about the availability of services near to people's homes through NHS Choices.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what timescale his Department proposes for the introduction of statutory regulation of counsellors and psychotherapists. (296288)

The Health Professions Council (HPC) has recently been consulting on its proposals for the regulation of psychotherapists and counsellors. It is envisaged that the HPC will deliver its recommendations to the Government by the end of this year. Following this, the Government will consider next steps, including timescales. Full consideration will be given to the outcome of the HPC consultation in taking forward any proposals for regulation.