Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by Mind (CP 19A)

  Mind would like to thank the Committee for the opportunity to give evidence relating to NHS charges and the effect they have, particularly on those who experience mental distress.

  During the evidence session on 2 February 2006, the Committee requested that Mind forward information relating people who pay for treatment prescribed by their doctor, in particular those who had paid for counselling and talking therapies. The Committee was also interested in the impact of not receiving prescribed care.

  These issues were explored in Mind's Hidden Costs of Mental Health report, published in 2003, a copy of which is attached.

  The report found that of the 455 respondents (all of whom had a diagnosed mental health problems):

    —  64% had paid for some form of care or treatment (prescribed or non-prescribed) for their diagnosed mental health problem. The average monthly payment for this group was £68, and included counselling and talking therapies, complementary therapies, drugs and medication, exercise, and other forms of help.

    —  Of the total group, 34% had paid for drugs or medication which had been prescribed by their doctor.

    —  45% of respondents had paid out of their own pocket for any form of care or treatment prescribed by their doctor. Of this group 21% had paid for prescribed counselling or talking therapies, and 25% had paid for recommended complementary therapies.

    —  Of those paying for treatment, only one fifth were paying the equivalent of a single prescription or less (£6.20 in 2002-03).The average monthly spend for those paying for treatments which had been prescribed by their doctor was £37.

    —  58% of respondents stated that they had missed out on some form of care or treatments which they felt would have been beneficial, most commonly because they could not afford it. The most common treatment which had not been received was counselling or other talking therapy.

    —  Of those who had paid for treatment or who didn't get a treatment they felt would have been beneficial, almost one half (47%) felt their recovery had been held back or their ability to cope had been reduced as a result of not getting the treatment they wanted or having to pay for it.

  From this it can clearly be seen that many people who experience mental distress pay a significant amount out of their own pocket for care and treatment for their mental health problem. The amount paid, even for prescribed care, can be significant and can result in people not being able to access the help they need, or experiencing hardship through being required to pay for care they need.

  It is of particular concern that so many are prescribed counselling or other talking therapies by their doctor but cannot receive this due to the NHS being unable to provide this within a reasonable timescale.

The NICE guidelines for depression and anxiety indicate that talking therapies should be the first line treatment for those experiencing mild to moderate depression and anxiety. Mind therefore feels that inability to provide this constitutes a failure of the NHS in its duty to provide adequate care and treatment to people experiencing mental health problems.

  Mind would be happy to provide any further information if the Committee would find it helpful.

Moira Fraser

Policy Officer, Mind

20 February 2006

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