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Failure to evaluate or follow-up critical safety resource for mental health patients and therapists

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Dear Department of Health and Social Care,

This is about the AdEPT study (Adverse Effects of Psychological Therapies). This project was managed by the CIF part of NIHR. I understand that FOIA requests about them must go via yourselves.

This project was conducted by Sheffield University (with a seconded NHS worker). Here's their original write-up https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/prev...

This was funded to the tune of 1/4 million pounds as 'Research for Patient Benefit'.

Part of this money was used to create a website for the benefit of patients and therapists, called Supporting Safe Therapy.

However, it was never fully finished (some parts still said 'coming soon') and then after a few years the web hosting fee was allowed to run out so it was removed by the internet company and never restored. No warning or signposting was given to any users of the website.

This request is specifically about the fact that the original award of 1/4 million pounds, in the funding stream called *Research for Patient Benefit*, was partly for them to evaluate how beneficial this website was for patients and therapists. But there's no sign this was ever done or ever will be done.

It seems there may have been a change partway through the project, to regard the website as just a feasibility thing, to see if such a website could be constructed. This would be consistent with the apparent fact that they never sought nor were ever granted approval from either NIHR or the Research Ethics Committee for any research related to the use of the website.

I have previously been provided with the application forms and final reports of this project. However, I believe I have not been able to obtain any record of an agreement for them to not go ahead with evaluating the website (but to apparently still keep all the grant money). Presumably this must have been agreed with NIHR and the reasoning documented. *Could you please provide this documentation?*

Finally, a representative of CIF indicated in an email to me that no follow-up is planned on this entire topic by NIHR, claiming there's insufficient interest in safety in healthcare using psychological techniques. However, the lead investigator of the project, Professor Parys, has told me she is writing a book on the topic. Safety in healthcare is usually considered an essential first and over-riding concern. Psychological techniques are a leading intervention (e.g. IAPT) for a wide range of mental health conditions which are leading casuses of disability and death via psychological processes (cf cognitive behavioural models of disorders, self-harm, suicide). *Could you please provide any documentation on NIHR's or the DHSC's reaction to the completed AdEPT study and what follow-up research or publicity to engage in?*

Yours faithfully,

Adam Duncan

(NB: I am aware there have been a couple of articles in research journals about other parts of the AdEPT research. That does not change any of the above points)

Department of Health and Social Care

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Duncan,

Please find attached the Department of Health and Social Care's response
to your recent FOI request. (our ref: FOI-1194300) 

Yours sincerely,

Lauren Der 

Freedom of Information team
Department of Health and Social Care

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