Cancer: Depressive Illnesses

Department of Health written question – answered on 23rd January 2015.

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Photo of Chris Ruane Chris Ruane Labour, Vale of Clwyd

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what estimate he has made of the (a) recovery and (b) mortality rates of cancer patients who (i) suffer and (ii) do not suffer from depression.

Photo of Chris Ruane Chris Ruane Labour, Vale of Clwyd

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what estimate he has made of the (a) recovery and (b) mortality rates of patients who have had a heart attack who (i) suffer and (ii) do not suffer from depression.

Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb The Minister of State, Department of Health

The Department has made no estimate of the recovery or mortality rates of cancer patients or patients who have had a heart attack, who also experience depression.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence advises that treating depression in people with a chronic physical health problem has the potential to increase their quality of life and life expectancy. Depression often has a remitting and relapsing course, and symptoms may persist between episodes. Where possible, the key goal of an intervention for depression should be complete relief of symptoms (recovery) – this is associated with better functioning and a lower likelihood of relapse than lesser degrees of response, as well as potentially better physical health outcomes.

Over £400 million is being invested over the spending review period to make a choice of psychological therapies available for those who need them in all parts of England.

We are also investing in improving provision for children and young people, older people and carers, people from black minority and ethnic groups, people with severe mental illness and people with long-term physical health problems.

The Department’s 2014-15 Mandate to NHS England makes clear that ‘everyone who needs it should have timely access to evidence based services’, this includes services for people with depression. The Mandate sets a clear objective for NHS England to deliver the key objectives of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme – providing access to therapies for 15% of those eligible (around 900,000 people), with a recovery rate of 50%.

NHS England is also currently carrying out a pilot aimed at improving access to psychological therapies for people with long term conditions and/or medically unexplained symptoms including diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke and other illnesses/disorders.

The refreshed Mandate to NHS England for 2015-16 makes clear that by March 2016 we expect NHS England to have made further measurable progress towards achieving true parity of esteem where everyone who needs it has timely access to evidenced based services that are better integrated with physical health services.

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