HC Deb 26 October 1976 vol 918 cc131-2W
Mr. Cyril Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) when guidelines are laid down by his Department for the introduction and evaluation of new psychotherapeutic treatments;

(2) if he is satisfied with the use of new psychotherapeutic techniques are adequately monitored;

(3) what steps his Department takes to check the effectiveness and ethical standards of new psychotherapeutic techniques.

Mr. Ennals

As regards the NHS, it is in general the responsibility of the doctor, in consultation with the other professional staff concerned, to organise an appropriate programme of treatment and care for his patient, in the light of present knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages of different forms of treatment and the wishes and condition of the patient. Evaluation of the effectiveness of psychotherapy presents considerable difficulties, but there have been a number of relevant studies in America and elsewhere and some in this country. The Medical Research Council is currently seeking research projects in psychotherapy.

In 1973, following a recommendation in the report of the professional investigation into medical and nursing practices on certain wards at Napsbury Hospital, the then Secretary of State requested the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Nursing and the British Psychological Society to set up a joint working party to formulate ethical guidelines for the conduct of behaviour modification programmes. I understand that the working party is now completing its report. A committee set up by a number of independent bodies to pursue the possibility of statutory registration of non-medical psychotherapists is also considering ethical requirements.

I have recently published a consultative document on the Review of the Mental Health Act 1959 which includes some suggestion about the protection of patients and about consent to treatment.