Written by Adam Jones, UKCP Policy and Public Affairs Manager
A central part of increasing access to psychotherapy – a longstanding strategic objective for UKCP – is strengthening and expanding its presence in the NHS.
This task can often leave us feeling like we are swimming upstream, but it is an essential pursuit. For the many hundreds of thousands of people who would benefit from freely available psychotherapy. And also, in a culture where the NHS is synonymous with healthcare, for the sustainability of the profession.
The NHS Long Term Plan published earlier this year outlined ambitions to significantly expand access to mental health care in England – which will require significant workforce expansion. However, this will only be delivered meaningfully if there is real leadership at the highest level.
That is why we are calling for the establishment of a new role: A Chief Psychological Professions Officer.
We’ve joined forces with service users and seven other professional bodies to call for this new government advisory post, whose role would be to represent all the psychological professions.
Creating an essential bridge between service users, staff, professional bodies and policymakers, a chief officer will support delivery of the rapid expansion of the psychological professions set out in the NHS Long Term plan and the increase in access to psychological therapies and interventions across mental and physical health services.
The creation of this post would also put the psychological professions on a par with medicine, nursing and the allied health professions, who already have an equivalent lead advisor in place.
We have written to the main political parties ahead of the anticipated General Election, urging them to include a pledge to establish the new role in their manifestos. We’ve also written to key stakeholders within NHS England to similar effect. We await their response.
We will, of course, keep you updated on the progress of this campaign, as well as other work we are doing to promote psychotherapy in the NHS.