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Access to counselling and support still poor says report

By Lilian Anekwe

Community mental health services are improving, but many thousands of patients are still being denied access to psychological therapies, according to a report out today.

The Healthcare Commission surveyed 15,900 people across 69 mental health trusts and found that access to counselling and support is still poor.

Overall, 76% of respondants felt the mental health services they received were either ‘good', ‘very good' or ‘excellent'.

But the report also shows that though there have been ‘encouraging' improvements in out of hours service and better information for service users, access to psychological therapies is still lacking in many parts of the country.

More that one in three (35%) patients who wanted counselling said that they were unable to get it, and half of patients (48%) still have no access to telephone-based out-of-hours crisis care.

Anna Walker, chief executive of the Healthcare Commission, said: ‘The general trends are encouraging. But this shouldn't disguise the problems – problems that have been going on for too long.

‘The results show there is still much to be done. We will be working with other regulators to encourage an effective partnership approach to this issue.'

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