A case of misalignment 

by Kelly Rushton


As part of our initial work in EQUITy, we interviewed people with unique perspectives on IAPT – those making big decisions on the direction of services locally and nationally (directors, service managers, clinical leads and academics) to find out what they think of the current use of telephone for delivering treatment. These interviews went alongside interviews with patients and frontline staff (Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWPs)), to help us identify the areas that need improvement.

We have recently published a paper in the journal BMC Health Services Research on the findings from our interviews with key decision makers. We found a mismatch between the national objectives for the provision of telephone treatment – which are to increase patient choice and access – and local drivers, which are often centred around meeting demands on services.

Although local decision makers want to offer telephone treatment for the ‘right’ reasons, limited budgets and increasing waiting lists have meant that it has become a tool to increase efficiency and reduce the need for clinic space in some services. In addition, the curriculum for PWPs does not sufficiently equip them with the necessary training to deliver treatment over the telephone. As a result, many newly qualified PWPs can find it difficult when starting their new roles to adapt to working on the telephone.

Decision makers identified that improvements in training for PWPs, and in the way telephone working is catered for within services could help towards improving the quality of telephone treatment in IAPT.

To read about these findings in more detail, check out our paper J