Laura Donnelly in her article 'Less is more' (news focus, pages 12-13, 31 August) refers to a briefing from the Department of Health concerning the NHS plan's promised 1,000 graduate primary care mental health workers. The briefing says that the expectation is that the graduate psychologists will be in a strong position to apply for these posts.
Primary care counsellors have been providing 'brief therapy' for the past decade. We know that brief, therapeutic interventions must be provided by highly skilled practitioners who have a substantial training and life experience. Counsellors are trained in the therapeutic skills necessary to work with severely distressed people with a wide range of mental health problems.
If, as Matt Muijen states in the article, there are real bottlenecks for graduates who want to become clinical psychologists because there aren't enough supervisory places, how is it anticipated the supervisors will suddenly be available for this new workforce? Surely it cannot be planned that these graduates will work without supervision.
The DoH says training will run through day-release schemes, which could be supported by clinical psychology training programmes with extra resources. A much better use of scarce resources would be to increase the funding for primary care counsellors rather than introduce a new, inadequately trained workforce with no proper career structure into primary care.
We need more primary care counsellors and we need more clinical psychologists. We do not need graduate psychologists working as primary care counsellors without the appropriate training. From the information we currently have, we have to warn that patients will be put at risk if this plan comes to fruition.
Joan Foster Chair Counsellors in Primary Care Bognor Regis