Mental Health


Research exposes inequalities in talking therapy waits

Patients with mental health problems can face waits of almost five months to access talking therapies in some parts of the country, according to new research.

This ‘postcode lottery’ has been revealed by the House of Commons Library, which found that waiting times vary from just five days in Stoke-on-Trent to 135 days in Leicester.

Many areas had longer waits for second treatment than for the first treatment, with waiting times for first and second treatment combined ranging from 16 days in Waltham Forest to 167 days in Leicester.

NHS England’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme (IAPT) aims to treat 75% of people experiencing common mental health problems within six weeks of referral.

This target is being met nationally, with 87% of those finishing a course of treatment in 2016-17 having waited less than six weeks for their first treatment. Although, as the figures show, there are large inequalities.

The IAPT programme aims for half of those finishing a course of treatment to have recovered from their condition, but in 2016-17 recovery rates varied from 66% in Rushcliffe to just 33% in Leicester.

Nationally, two thirds of people show a reliable improvement following a course of IAPT treatment. But, again, there is significant variation across the country, reaching as much as 80% in south west Lincolnshire and as little as 46%  in Leicester.

The research highlighted further sources of inequality, with those living in more deprived areas less likely to experience improvement or recovery.

People with disabilities or who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual were also less likely to experience improvement following treatment, as were people who identified as BAME.

Last year, the total spend on mental health was planned to be £11.9bn, compared with £11.6bn the previous year, a real-terms increase of 0.4%.

CCGs are expected to attain the Mental Health Investment Standard, meaning that the promotional increase on mental health spending each year should be larger than the proportion increase in overall CCG spending.

In 2017-18, total CCG spending on mental health was planned to rise from 13.6% of total spending to 13.9% and so the national standard was expected to be met.

However, 32 CCGs did not expect to meet this investment standard last year.

Top image: SolStock 


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