“Look at the progress we’re making on talking therapies, where we’ve doubled investment… I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved.”
The majority of the government’s investment has been in the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme. After seven years, IAPT is still failing to reach its own modest target of treating 15% of the estimated 6.7 million people in the UK with depression and/or anxiety.
Even when other NHS services are accounted for, three-quarters of people with these conditions - five million people in the UK - receive no treatment. This is a national scandal which makes a mockery of the government’s commitment to ‘parity of esteem’ between mental and physical healthcare, which the Secretary of State also referred to in his interview.
The Department of Health have themselves said that through early intervention and the prevention of later ill health, as well as through enabling people to return to work and reducing sickness absence, IAPT more than pays for itself. The government’s own figures point to a net saving to the taxpayer of £300 million by 2015, and net financial benefits to ‘UK plc’ of a staggering £4.6 billion by 2017. This represents a return on investment of over 400% over a decade. There is therefore no financial reason why the government should not commit to significant investment in therapy in order to meet its commitment to parity of esteem for mental health.
Patients expect the NHS to treat all forms of ill-health, and a genuine commitment to parity of esteem means timely treatment for depression and anxiety being available to 100% of those who need it. We call on the government to commit to achieving this and to outline how and when it will do so.
BACP - 24/06/2014