In early February, we attended the 9th Annual New Savoy Conference, the leading annual event for IAPT services. The theme this year was 'Psychological Therapies in the NHS'.
Key highlights included:
The launch of a new 'Staff Charter for Psychological Wellbeing and Resilience'. The aim of the Charter is to address concerns about moving the IAPT target from 15% access to 25% by 2020, within new waiting time targets of 6 weeks from referral to treatment. Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes, President of the British Psychological Society, endorsed the charter saying:
"Health and wellbeing at work are vital issues which we of all people should be particularly concerned about. This is an area close to my heart... I have worked in, led and managed NHS services and have seen the effects of stress, overwork, inadequate supervision and consequent burnout at first hand"
The former Health Secretary, the Right Honourable Alan Johnson MP, who launched the national IAPT initiative in 2008, has welcomed the Charter saying:
"The introduction of IAPT was one of the highlights of my time as Health Secretary... It was and remains the most important mental health initiative for a generation and I fully support your ongoing work through this Charter to sustain the wellbeing of its staff who are the key to its success."
Read more about the charter here
Two popular IAPT-related workshops attracted a large audience. These were facilitated by Dr Kim de Jong (University of Leiden, Netherlands), Dr Jaime Delgadillo (University of York & Northern IAPT Practitioner Research Network) and Dr Dean McMillan (Mental Health and Addictions Research Group, University of York). In the first workshop, Dr McMillan introduced a new multi-site trial on Predicting Patient Recovery and shared positive viewpoints from IAPT therapists on the use of outcome feedback forms in daily practice.
A second workshop by Dr Delgadillo addressed the links between poverty and mental healthcare. His research question was: Are IAPT services equally accessible and equally effective for people in living in low and high income areas? Jaime presented data on the effects of socioeconomic deprivation on access to psychological therapies, and discussed how poverty influences patient outcomes.
He found evidence that people living in more deprived areas tend to have greater levels of psychiatric problems, are less likely to seek help for their mental health, less likely to start therapy after being referred and less likely to benefit from either antidepressants or psychological therapies. The overall finding was that while IAPT services in deprived areas receive more referrals, they don't have higher caseloads. Here's a link to his paper relating to his presentation.
The conference ended with a debate on workforce planning and leadership in psychological therapies. The primary question of this final session was 'what are the priorities for investment?'