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Nearly half of IAPT patients ‘move to recovery’

Just under half of patients who are treated under the Government’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme move to recovery, but drop-out rates remains high.

Official outcomes data suggest the programme is moving steadily towards the Government’s goal of having half of patients with depression or anxiety recover after treatment. But take-up remains low, with just under 60% of patients referred entering treatment and then less than two-thirds of these completing a minimum of two sessions.

The figures for January to March 2013, published today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, show 46.8% of patients who completed at least two treatment contacts moved to recovery, defined as a score of less than 8 on the GAD7 and/or less than 10 on the PHQ-9.

This means the programme is getting closer to delivering the Government’s target 50% recovery rate, as set out in Talking Therapies: A four-year plan of action, and is delivering a better average recovery rate than at its outset. The action plan states that by 2014/2015, the NHS should deliver ‘at least 50% of those completing treatment moving to recovery and most experiencing a meaningful improvement in their condition’.   

The data suggest all participating areas are performing better, although there is still considerable variation in recovery rates – ranging from 23% in Hull to 83% in North Lincolnshire.

The HSCIC also highlights that a total of 6,776 people moved off sick pay and benefits under the IAPT programme over the final quarter of 2012/2013.

However, access rates have slipped behind the target trajectory – at 2.5% of the eligible population compared with the goal of 3% at this stage.

Dr Mark Ashworth, clinical senior lecturer at King’s College London and a GP in south-east London, said the recovery rates were ‘very impressive’, but that the programme still had a way to go to fulfill its aims.

He said: ‘On the other hand, for just 6,776 patients (out of 154,700 starting treatment) to move off sick pay and benefits isn’t really an endorsement of Lord Layard’s founding principle that talking therapies would pay for itself by increasing the numbers of people returning to work.’

He added: ‘At least it looks for now as though the service is safe and will continue to be funded which, in the present climate, has got to be encouraging.’