We’ve joined together with seven other organisations to call for the introduction of a Chief Psychological Professions Officer.
The role would be the most senior government advisor on the psychological professions, with a direct link to the people at the top of both NHS England and the Department of Health.
They would be in a position to help ensure that the NHS Long Term Plan improves access to quality psychological healthcare and that a huge proposed increase in the psychological professions workforce over the next decade is coordinated and sustainable.
And they would work to promote issues, that are important within counselling and psychotherapy, to the government, NHS and the public.
Our Chair Andrew Reeves said: “This would be a powerful voice for the psychological professions.
“It would give us an extra connection to the government and health service so the people that matter hear our messages loud and clear. We believe this can only be of benefit to our members and the public, and the profession as a whole.
“We’ve seen the impact these roles have had within medicine, nursing and the allied health professions. It’s time the psychological professions had someone with this level of influence within the government who can help bring about change and advance the professions.
“This is an important part of our work to promote our message that counselling changes lives.”
Letters have been sent to key decision-makers in NHS England and Department of Health, requesting a meeting to discuss the call for the creation of the role.
It states that there has been an ‘alarming rise’ in mental distress among children, young people and adults and welcomes the NHS Long Term Plan as a “much needed roadmap for improving access” to psychological healthcare.
The letter adds: “But a plan is only as good as its delivery. If people are to experience real improvements a rapid, coordinated and sustainable expansion of the psychological professions workforce – by around 50 per cent over the next decade – will be needed.
“Achieving this unprecedented expansion will require everyone to work together – professions, service users and policy makers. It will also demand strong leadership, vision and coordination at a national level.
"That’s why we’re calling for the establishment of a Chief Psychological Professions Officer, putting the psychological professions on a par with medicine, nursing and the allied health professions.”
The letter has been signed by Andrew, as well: as Sarb Bajwa, Chief Executive, British Psychological Society (BPS); Gary Fereday, Chief Executive, British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC); Laura Lea, Mental Health Service User; Prof Sarah Niblock, Chief Executive, UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP); Professor Paul Salkovskis, President, British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP); Dr Reenee Singh, Chief Executive, The Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice in the UK (AFT); Dr Nick Waggett, Chief Executive, Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP); Prof Mike Wang, Chair, Association of Clinical Psychologists UK (ACP-UK).
The organisations involved represent 20,000 professionals within the NHS and are the largest in their respective fields.
We will continue to keep you updated on this campaign.
Writing in Health Service Journal, Sarb Bajwa, BPS Chief Executive, and Dr Nick Waggett, chief executive of the Association of Child Psychotherapists, said: "The NHS long-term plan offers an opportunity to significantly expand access to psychological healthcare in all its forms and to deliver more integrated care for patients.
"But delivering this transformation means psychological approaches to healthcare must be ‘hard wired’ into the NHS architecture at all levels – national, regional and local.
"Critical to achieving this will be having a chief officer for the psychological professions within NHS England/Improvement providing the strategic vision, leadership and coordination to make the plan a reality."