This week my baby daughter spent the night in hospital with acute bronchialitus, a nasty respiratory condition that caused her to have great difficulty breathing. We were incredibly impressed by the competance, kindness and thoroughness of all the healthcare professionals we have come into contact with over the past few days. There are times when the NHS shows its sheer brilliance. For some, the concept of free universal health care would be a dream come true. Obama is fighting tooth and nail for a version of what we have in an otherwise truly enviable nation. You won’t often find me complaining about health care provision in England.
But this week, the BBC reported the results of a new study carried out by the mental health charity, Mind, which highlighted some serious shortfalls in the provision of care for those with depression. 65% of doctors can “rarely” offer psychological therapy for those they diagnose with depression within two months, despite the fact that NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) considers this the best treatment for mild to moderate depression. Instead, people are sent home with a pescription and if they are lucky, some good advice about taking excercise and eating a balanced diet. I am an unashamed advocate for drugs. In many cases, they have a huge impact on depression, but they are only part of the answer, and often just a short term and superficial fix. I am often so grateful for the fact that I was depressed in Canada, because I was able to see a fantastic psychiatrist for three years, for free, via my health insurance. In 2007 the UK government earmarked 173 million pounds to boost the numbers of cognitive behavioural therapists available on the NHS. I look forward to hearing that this investment has begun to bear fruit.