NHS figures reveal more than 40pc of residents waiting months for therapy
PUBLISHED: 09:12 30 August 2018 | UPDATED: 09:12 30 August 2018
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More than 40pc of people undergoing psychological therapy in Bexley are waiting longer than three months between treatment appointments, according to NHS figures.
Mental health campaigners say that this is too long to wait - and best practice guidelines advise that psychological therapies should be delivered on a weekly or fortnightly basis.
In May, around 65 of the 145 people who had a second treatment session in the Bexley clinical commissioning group (CCG) waited more than three months between appointments - a rate of 45pc.
Around 120 people waited over a month between appointments - 83pc of the total.
Mental health charity Mind has called the figures “worrying”.
As part of its Improved Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) programme, NHS targets state that 75pc of service users should have their first treatment appointment within six weeks of referral, and 95% within 18 weeks - there is no target for second appointments.
In the Bexley CCG, 98.5pc of the 325 people having their first appointment in May waited less than six weeks, and none waited for more than 18 weeks.
By these measures, Bexley CCG has far exceeded these targets.
Mind’s Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer Emily Waller said: “Because of the targets, all the emphasis is on the wait for the first appointment, and not on the subsequent appointments.
“These figures highlight the fact that some talking therapies aren’t being delivered in the best way possible.
“Although targets for accessing the first appointment are being met, this data shows that there are still long waits between sessions in parts of the country.
“This makes it more likely for people using the service to become more unwell, or disengage with the service altogether.”
The IAPT programme aims to improve the delivery of therapy services across a range of conditions, including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress.
Ms Waller said: “It’s really important to make sure that once people enter into treatment, that treatment is regular and consistent.”
An NHS England spokesperson said that the agreed waiting time targets for referral to first treatment have been met.
Nationally, 90pc of people waited less than 6 weeks to start treatment, and 99pc of people waited less than 18 weeks.