"Severe lack of mental health services in Sefton"

About: Sefton PCT / Primary care mental health service

(as the patient),

I have mild to moderate depression & anxiety. Each time I see my GP they offer me drugs. I have been referred to a psychiatrist who no doubt will only offer me drug therapy.

I have had counselling & the contract for this service in Sefton is now with Inclusion Matters. You are entitled to five 30 minute sessions - and the 1st one is taken up with them talking about confidentiality & what you can expect from counselling. This is grossly inadequate & achieves very little. You have only enough time to start talking about your problems then your time's up.

There is no other provision in the area unless you are admitted to a psychiatric ward. Surely frontline services are there to stop admissions to hospital thus saving money?

The moral to my story is don't become ill with a mental illness in Sefton unless you're willing to have drugs thrown at you.

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Response from NHS Sefton We have made a change

NHS Sefton commissions Inclusion Matters Sefton to deliver a stepped care service model. This is compliant with NICE guidance and supports the ethos that most people who have mild to moderate mental health problems benefit from short term brief interventions, lasting up to 6 weeks. Where this proves not to be sufficient, people can be stepped up to more intensive interventions lasting up to 13 weeks.

The first session with a patient involves a great deal of information gathering and provision. This spans from gaining an understanding of the issues the patient wishes to address, the impact they have, information about the service and treatment options to how these may be of benefit. This information exchange process is unavoidable if the service is able to select appropriate treatment options for patients and empower them to make informed treatment choices. The remainder of the session is used to commence treatment delivery.

Since its inception the service has experienced unpredicted demand and has therefore struggled with capacity. For this reason NHS Sefton made the decision to invest in a national programme to improve access, which has resulted in staffing levels within the service doubling over the last few weeks. However the full impact of the additional resource is unlikely to be realised until next year when staff have completed their training and become fully operational

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