Heather Stewart, Chair of the Association of Child Psychotherapists, meets with James Morris, MP and Parliamentary Private Secretary to Jeremy Hunt

Heather Stewart, Chair of the Association of Child Psychotherapists, met with James Morris, MP and Parliamentary Private Secretary to Jeremy Hunt, on Friday 14th October at his constituency office in Halesowen, West Midlands. The meeting was set up to discuss the potential cuts to the local CAMHS workforce if the funding of child psychotherapy training was withdrawn. Dudley CAMHS currently has 4 trainees from Birmingham Trust for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (BTPP) in its team.

James Morris wished to assure Heather of his government’s commitment to mental health and particularly to children’s mental health. There was broad agreement that the commissioning of training places and the commissioning of clinical services was not joined up and that local commissioning boards across the country may be unaware of the workforce that is funded through Health Education Boards. With the transformation of local services there is a danger that national or regional trainings may get lost from local plans.

James Morris wanted to assure Heather that Jeremy Hunt took a particular interest in mental health and chaired a weekly meeting in the Department of Health with senior people from NHS England and HEE, to ensure that mental health continued as a priority for this government. James discussed the government’s focus on implementing the five year plan arising out of the Future in Mind report and shared his view that there needed to be more joined up thinking between the Department of Education and the Department of Health and that he felt that the current system of tiered services didn’t work. In principle, he seemed to accept that there continued to be a need for specialist clinicians in the CYP-IAPT programme and accepted the argument that it was important that there was a choice of treatments available to patients. He was pleased to hear that there had been a reprieve for the ACP training in 2017/18 and agreed to follow up and ensure that there was a response to Heather’s letter to Jeremy Hunt during the summer.

The discussion was broad-ranging and Heather has now been invited to attend a local mental health forum in James Morris’s constituency in November. Heather’s advice to members is to keep talking to local commissioners and politicians and to keep the importance and value of psychoanalytic psychotherapy treatment for children on the agenda.