At the start of the 1980s, the newly elected Conservative government had come to power with a mandate to reduce public spending. This cut across all areas of public services and the NHS was not exempt. It was against this background that following the Griffiths Report in 1983 the NHS saw a radical change of culture with the introduction of General Management, where for the first time clinicians and professional staff had to answer to managers.

Within the Department of Health there was a general perception that psychotherapy was an expensive luxury. The Seymour Commission was set up to look into this. Alexis Brook from the Tavistock Clinic and Rob Hale (the then Chair of the Portman) were both on the Hampstead Health Authority and both saw it as a potential threat.

To counter the perceived threat the Portman Clinic undertook a cost-benefits analysis on the impact of shutting down the Tavistock and Portman Clinics and was able to show that such a closure would cost more than would be saved, in terms of the impact on other institutions.

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