2017 marks the 10th anniversary for the New Savoy conferences: a decade in which we have seen industrialization of delivery models for evidence-based psychological therapies.
For some the IAPT revolution leads the world in its achievements: unparalleled levels of access (3M patients and counting); 80%+ waiting less than 6 weeks for treatment; outcomes data on close to 100% of patients; 3/4M patients recovered; 100,000 patients off benefits. For others its flawed model has been a fundamental mistake: a one-size fits all offer; high attrition and unacceptable non-recovery rates (2.3M patients and counting); a command and control culture doing damage to staff, whose own wellbeing is worth less than the imperative of meeting top-down targets. Somewhere in-between these views New Savoy delegates have been charting the impact of this decade on our discipline and reflecting on consequences of what we have wished for. Still somewhere beyond this lies a complex set of methodological and scientific issues we have debated over the years with NICE about how we evaluate evidence-based practice.
What is undisputed is the high profile psychological therapies and mental health generally has achieved in the national consciousness and on the agenda for politicians. We have welcomed to our conference two Secretaries of State for Health and three Ministers of State representing all three parties, Labour, Liberal-Democrat and Conservative. Other guests include the Shadow Cabinet Minister, the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Party for mental health, as well as a backbench MP and a former spin doctor leading the campaign against stigma, and speaking movingly of their own mental health difficulties. Peers of the realm from the crossbenches, Baronesses Meacher and Hollins, New Labour’s Happiness Tzar, Lord Layard, his colleague, Lord Adebowale, and Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud, have subjected themselves to questioning by the BBC’s Home Editor, Mark Easton.
What has emerged with force and clarity over the decade as the single, stark reason that evidence-based psychological therapies are center stage for policy makers is a realization they are the only real route to behavioral change and thus hold the key to reducing the deficit. This uncomfortable fact represents a profound and enduring challenge for our field. Whether we wish to grasp the opportunity, and the change it also represents for us, is less clear. A discipline that understood its true value across the public sector would not now be facing the real prospect that funding for its future workforce may disappear altogether. Health Education England is pulling out in 2017. Where is our leadership speaking out?
Our annual BPS/NSP staff wellbeing survey in 2015 showed that almost 50% of the psychological workforce felt conditions of stress, burnout, lack of resources and the target culture left them feeling they were a failure some, most or all of the time. What impact is this having on the care we are offering our patients? Please take the survey again this year and tell us what you think is going wrong (or right) so that we can better support staff wellbeing and more sustainable, compassionate, effective services for our patients.
Join us for what will be a fascinating anniversary as we look ahead to the next 10 years.
To find out more about The New Savoy Partnership and view content from previous years events follow New Savoy Partnership website.