New mental health service helping bridge the gap in NHS care in Devon

A new mental health service has been launched in Devon to help deliver enhanced psychological therapies in the gap between primary and secondary NHS care.

The Accessing Evidence Based Psychological Therapies (AccEPT) clinic is a free psychological therapies service funded by the NHS and hosted by the University of Exeter, for adults living in Devon who have depression, bipolar disorder, and other related conditions.

The AccEPT clinic will offer research studies of new therapies and deliver some established therapies in the gap between primary and secondary mental health care in Devon, as part of a new contract with NHS Devon Integrated Care Board running until March 2025. AccEPT will work closely with the newly formed Devon Mental Health Alliance and in partnership with the voluntary sector and wider NHS to achieve this.

Primary care in NHS mental health treatment mainly refers to talking therapies, such as guided self-help, counselling, and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Secondary care involves mental health teams and specialist psychiatric support, and some patients fall into the gap between these two forms of care. This could be for several reasons: some people have mental health difficulties that are out of the remit of primary care mental health services but are not feeling so unwell that they are eligible for secondary care. Others may have received primary care talking therapies but are not feeling completely well or having ongoing support needs after being discharged from secondary care.

AccEPT has been offering care in Devon for over ten years, but this new contract will realign its research focus and clinical offerings to focus on supporting clients who fall into this gap.

Dr Kim Wright is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Exeter and AccEPT Clinic Co-Lead and said: “The gap in mental health care is sometimes referred to as ‘the missing middle’ and it affects many people in Devon and across the country, but this unique partnership between the University and local NHS is part of helping local services to bridge that gap.”

Exeter’s Labour MP Ben Bradshaw met with the AccEPT team at the Sir Henry Wellcome Mood Disorders Research Centre, the state-of-the-art therapy centre on the University of Exeter’s Streatham Campus where the clinic is based, to find out about mental health services in Devon and AccEPT. Ben plans to retire before the next General Election and was joined by Steve Race, who is standing to be Exeter Labour’s Parliamentary candidate.

Ben Bradshaw MP said: “I was delighted to visit Exeter’s world leading mood disorders research centre and learn of the groundbreaking work their AccEPT clinic is doing on developing new treatments. The gaps they described in current NHS provision for large numbers of patients stuck in the ‘missing middle’, whose mental health conditions are deemed too severe for primary care but not severe enough for secondary care, was very concerning and the innovative psychotherapy model they have developed to help this group deserves to be taken up by the NHS more widely.”

Professor Barney Dunn from the University of Exeter is AccEPT Clinic Co-Lead and said: “We’re delighted that Ben and Steve wanted to hear more about the work we are doing and there is a lot of transformation happening locally and nationally in adult mental health services, so this is a very good time to be shining a light on how we can continue to develop and improve the care we offer in Devon.”

AccEPT offer a range of treatments which fit into three pathways; hard to treat depression, bipolar, recovery and resilience. These treatments are either offered face-to-face in Exeter, or remotely online. Find out more information about AccEPT here –