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Patients waiting four months for mental health treatment in some areas



The waiting times for the first treatment under the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme was as long as four months in some areas of the country, official figures have revealed.

The annual report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) showed that the average waiting time from referral to the first treatment appointment at NHS Blackpool CCG was 124.1 days, compared with 6.7 days at NHS Dudley CCG. 

It showed that there was similar variation across the country around the recovery of patients from mental health problems varies.

Comparing different CCG areas, the proportion of patients recorded as recovered after completing a course of treatment under the IAPT programme in 2014/15 ranged from less than one-in-five to almost seven-in-ten.

The data showed:

  • The average recovery rate across England was 44%;
  • In NHS Cannock Chase CCG 69.4% recovered, compared with only 18.8% in NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale CCG;
  • The mean average waiting time was 32 days from referral to the first treatment appointment.
  • The CCG with the shortest mean average waiting time was NHS Dudley CCG at 6.7 days.
  • The CCG with the longest mean average waiting time from referral to the first treatment appointment was NHS Blackpool CCG at 124.1 days.

HSCIC responsible statistician Dominic Gair said: ’Today’s report highlights regional differences in recovery rates and waiting times, providing useful information about the characteristics of people accessing services.

’This report will enable commissioners and care providers to review access to psychological therapies in their areas, which should be useful when planning services for patients in the future.’

The report covers the last 12-month period up until when the Government’s official waiting times target came into force on 1 April this year. Patients are now expected to be treated within six weeks, with an absolute maximum waiting time of 18 weeks.