Mental health treatment under the NHS is at extreme risk

 mental health 445
06 Jan 2016 16:47:28.567

PA 05/16

The NHS of 2015 is in danger of being unethical for mental health counsellors to work in, according to a new paper from The University of Nottingham.

In Therapy Today, Dr Gillian Proctor who trains counsellors from The University of Nottingham’s School of Education reflects on the predictions she made on the future of the NHS in a paper in 2002 and how the current services are impacting on the treatment of mental health today.

Dr Proctor said: “The privatisation of the NHS has continued by stealth, with the result of increasing bureaucratisation and medicalisation of mental healthcare. All the new money put into mental health care through IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) has resulted in patients being treated as numbers to be measured in spurious ways and treated as though counselling was a drug, offered a small dose and then discharged.

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‘Conveyor-belt services’

“Despite the false rhetoric of increasing choice of therapy for patients, models which prioritise the therapy relationship struggle to fit in such a one-size-fits-all system.   Counsellors who respond to patients with distress with humanity and care are being driven out of such conveyor-belt services and patients are dropping out and being left with nothing.”

In her paper Dr Proctor identifies that:

  • Mental healthcare has moved away from the idea of relationships, and professionals further away from the idea that who and how we are as people matters.
  • Healthcare professionals are working towards performance-related pay — and are judged by the numbers of people seen and ‘improving’ on arbitrary symptom- based scales of mental health, rather than by their ability to respond to personal distress.
  • Mental health services are now dominated by IAPT — meaning services are more about structured standardised short term interventions than personalised or longer term therapy.
  • The privatisation of the NHS is continuing surreptitiously.
  • The UK is still managing to maintain the line that the NHS — is ‘free      healthcare for all’ — but for how long?
  • The only way for private companies to deliver better care to patients at a lower cost than the NHS, is by reducing the pay of its employees.
  • The pay and employment conditions of NHS jobs have reduced substantially in  the last five years.

Dr Proctor adds: “I’m disappointed that my previous predictions which I feared have been surpassed and I’m very disillusioned about the possibility of working as an ethical counsellor and providing a humane service to distressed clients in the NHS.”

A full copy of the report can be viewed at

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and the winner of ‘Research Project of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2014. It is ranked in the world’s top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, and 8th in the UK by research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for three years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…


Story credits

More information is available from Dr Gillian Proctor, the School of Education at The University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)7780 575 371,

Charlotte Anscombe - Media Relations & Campaign Manager

Email:  Phone:+44 (0)115 74 84 417 Location: University Park

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