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Some Bucks therapists 'untrained' in some treatments

Some Bucks therapists 'untrained' in some treatments

Published by Dan Gooding at 5:42am 24th February 2020.

37 per-cent of therapists at Buckinghamshire's mental health service are delivering treatments they're not fully trained in.

Mental health charity Mind has called on the NHS to "urgently address its shrinking mental health workforce", after an audit of psychological services across England showed patients are routinely treated by people without relevant training.

The audit, carried out by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, examined the care received by people with anxiety or depression who were referred to secondary mental health services.

These include mental health hospitals or community teams, which deal with severe or complex cases.

More stories from our Mental Health Awareness Month

Of the 46 therapists surveyed in the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, 17 (37%) said they were delivering at least one kind of therapy they had no formal training in.

The figure was 44% across England as a whole.

Dr. John Pimm, from Oxford Health, disagreed with the findings:

"We only employ qualified psychological therapists or people who are training.

"Once you qualify, we often go on to do further, post-qualification training in many different therapies and that is part of the normal development path.

"So I'm confident that when patients come forward, they will be seeing somebody who is qualified and competent to provide their treatment.

"There are always new treatments coming along and we have to keep developing and learning and training ourselves in those."

The Whiteleaf Centre
Oxford Health run mental health services in Bucks

Charlotte Gill, policy and campaigns manager at Mind, said:

"We know there are issues with a lack of NHS therapists with the right training to meet demand.

"Asking for help for a mental health problem can be difficult, so it is crucial that when people do, they feel confident that their therapist has received the right training to be able to help them.

"Thousands of people access talking therapies through the NHS but it must urgently address its shrinking mental health workforce, which is driving an overall decline in the quality of care across the board."

Auditors also discovered that 17% of patients at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust were receiving a type of therapy that was not the one recommended for their condition by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which issues guidance on treatment.

Across England, the figure was 35%.

While the report said a number of factors could have influenced the figures – such as a patient having tried the recommended treatment before without success – it warned there was "a significant shortage of clinicians" trained in all the necessary areas to deliver NICE-recommended therapies across the country.

Mental health / hands
More and more people are seeking treatment, adding pressure to services

Dr Esther Cohen-Tovee of the British Psychological Society said this meant services are often unable to provide the right interventions to everybody who could benefit from them.

She added:

"The BPS has consistently pushed for mental health to be viewed with the same importance as physical health, and ensuring that more qualified psychologists and psychological therapists are trained and recruited across the NHS is key to that aim.”

Ms Gill added that therapists needed access to "specialised, relevant and ongoing training" to equip them for the task at hand.

Of the therapists surveyed at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, 25 out of 46 (58%) thought they were getting enough support from the service to continue their professional development, compared to 67% nationally.

An NHS spokesman said:

“The NHS is heavily investing in improving the training and upskilling of staff to deliver effective psychological therapies in community mental health services to hundreds of thousands of people as part of the Long Term Plan.

“There are 12 psychological professions in NHS commissioned healthcare and the ambition is to expand that workforce significantly over the next five years.”

There is more on our Mental Health Awareness Month and where to get help here.

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