NHS Talking Therapies – A Sacred Cow

NHS Talking Therapies is the only NHS service that it is not independently assessed. Costing £2 billion a year for adult and child services, it has escaped the scrutiny of both the National Audit Office and the Care Quality Commission. It is also, it seems, the only NHS service were staff are not in a public pay dispute.  What is going on?

It deftly keeps below the radar, so that ‘value for money’ questions  are not asked. The other string to its’ bow is ‘gas-lighting’, the repeated repetition of a claim, absorbed by its familiarity. Its’ much vaunted ‘50% recovery rate’, has warmed the cockles of the hearts of politicians,  Integrated Care Boards and the media, who have all readily and willingly accepted the lie [see Scott (2018)] in the name of political correctness – to be seen to be on the side of mental health.  In Mental Awareness Week the powerholders need educating that functioning does not equal working. The Annual reports of IAPT (NHS Talking Therapies previous embodiment) portrays its functioning: numbers seen, waiting times and self-determined targets met. But with no evidence that it is working – no independent assessment of the proportion of clients who are back to their old self and remain so post treatment. There is no credible listening to the client by a Red Cross-like body.

The Citizens Advice Bureaux are a nationally recognised and valued body. Many of their clientele have mental health problems, but there is no evidence that they are any the less served than if they had attended NHS Talking Therapies.  The added value of this NHS service has not been demonstrated. Perhaps NHS Talking Therapies staff dare not consider strike action because they are afraid nobody would miss them. GPs may miss the brief respite that may come with off-loading to NHS Talking Therapies, some perhaps even believing or at least wanting to believe NHS Talking Therapies fairy tale. They may be complicit in marketing the tale to patients.

Dr Mike Scott