BPS responds to NHS 'listening exercise'

The British Psychological Society, in its response to Professor Steve Field’s NHS modernisation ‘listening exercise’, has joined many other organisations in expressing major concerns at the implications of the Health and Social Care Bill. The lead author of the Society’s response was Professor Peter Kinderman, Chair of the its Division of Clinical Psychology.

Professor Kinderman said: “Psychologists’ clients tend to be very socially disadvantaged and vulnerable. They have a particular need for an NHS free at the point of use, as well as for a wide range of integrated social services. Our clients also tend to be less able to negotiate complex choices and assert themselves. That means we fear the consequences of unbridled choice and market forces – clients need high-quality basic services, not competition.

The Secretary of State for Health’s obligation to provide universal, free, care should be retained and the regulatory body ‘Monitor’ should not have an obligation to “promote competition”, but instead should have an obligation to ensure equity and quality of service.

Although psychologists would like to see radical improvement to the commissioning system, it is important that decisions are made by commissioning panels made up of representatives from various professions, local authorities, community groups and service users, not merely GP consortia.  

Of course, we strongly argue for continued investment in evidence-based psychological therapies, and for the properly qualified, robustly regulated, professionals to deliver them. Psychological interventions are effective and very popular. But we are concerned that the current efficiency savings in the NHS, as well as the proposed new commissioning arrangements, may threaten this.”