Johnson floats plan to add CBT to quality framework

GPs to boost access to psychological therapies.

The use of psychological therapies could be added to the quality framework in an attempt to boost their uptake, according to the health secretary.

At the Psychological Therapies in the NHS conference in London last week, Alan Johnson said GPs should be encouraged to prescribe therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for mental health problems.

He was responding to concerns that GPs were being bypassed in the roll-out of the DoH's Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme for PCTs in England.

Dr Chris Manning, founder of charity Primary Care Mental Health and Education, said: 'There are concerns that GPs are not being involved enough.'

But Mr Johnson replied: 'We recognise the need to get GPs involved. We can do it through the discussions we have with the BMA on the things that we put into the quality framework.'

The issue could also be addressed through training and education, he added.

Dr Alan Cohen, the IAPT programme's national primary care adviser for England, said: 'GPs are becoming more involved. Psychological therapies could be added to the quality framework.'

Better training could help GPs refer appropriately, he added.

Angela Greatley, chief executive of the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, backed plans to work with primary care to boost access to CBT.

'Family doctors hold the key to managing depression and anxiety,' she said.

Meanwhile, a study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found group-based CBT was more effective than antidepressants in stopping relapses in patients with long-term depression.

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