Mental health service leaves patients waiting months for urgent help

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It has been revealed that patients in need of a service called Improving Access to Psychological Therapies – NHS England’s talking therapy service – are being left on waiting lists for months.

The service offers therapy to adults with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Although nine out of 10 adults are first seen in under six weeks (the target time set by NHS England), many patients are having to wait far longer to receive regular treatment.

50% of patients had to wait more than 28 days between their first and second meeting, whilst one in six had to wait over 90 days for a second appointment.

For most, the first meeting is an assessment, whilst the second is when the core treatment begins.

NHS England stating that ‘nine out of 10 adults are seen in under six weeks’ gives off the impression that this many patients start continuous therapy within this timeframe, when this is not the case.

Data collected shows that approximately 100,000 individuals stopped using the therapy service in between their first and second appointments. It is likely that many of these quit as a result of wait times.

Paul Williams, 60, tried to take his own life whilst waiting for therapy. He had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder following a violent incident during his career in the police force. He explained that he felt trapped in a “holding pattern.”

Meanwhile Gemma, 30, ended up having to pay for private treatment after long waits for help left her feeling suicidal.

Amanda Cavanagh, a medical negligence specialist, comments: “This is such a sad state of affairs as tragically some patients succeed in taking their own lives whilst waiting for therapy. Even the target time of six weeks is too long for anyone is a state of mental anguish to wait for an initial assessment.  My concern is that even if the patient manages to hold on until the date of the initial assessment, what effect does the further delay have on their already fragile state? From my experience in dealing with the tragic events surrounding suicide, the waiting period between appointments is just too much for some.”


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