Waiting more than a year? We need to talk now.
Posted Friday 15 October 2010
After months of work, we’ve finally completed our investigation into the provision of psychological therapies in England. We’ve led this work as a member of the We Need to Talk coalition, a body of organisations all campaigning to improve the provision of talking therapies.
Since the introduction of the last Government’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies in 2007, there have been some real improvements. Many people are having to wait no longer than a few weeks and are actually being offered some meaningful choice in the type of therapy they receive. However, for many others the situation is not so good. One in five are having to wait over a year between being referred for therapy and actually receiving it, while 68 per cent had absolutely no choice in the therapy they received.
Needless to say, the consequences of the inadequacies of this provision can be pretty devastating for those involved. Furthermore, the consequences of having to wait for so long and having absolutely no choice can really undermine the effectiveness of the therapy that is eventually used. For example, we found that people who had to wait less than three months were almost five times more likely to say that the therapy helped them get back in to work than those who had to wait between one to two years.
There’s also a pretty convincing economic case for more to be done. Poor mental health costs the English economy over £100 billion a year, so a small increase in spending on talking therapies could return huge savings elsewhere.
So what happens next? Well, we want to work with the Government to make sure that we get the type of therapy provision that people need – access for all to a wide range of therapies within 28 days of referral. To be fair to the Government, they’ve been saying some pretty good things. They've made a commitment to improve access to talking therapies in its programme for Government, and have since made choice a key part of its planned reforms for the NHS.
What our report does is highlight the current problems, and makes the case for action to be taken. You can be sure that we, together with our coalition allies, will be fighting tooth and nail to make sure that the Government makes good its promises and implements the recommendations we’ve made.
There will be many opportunities for you all to get involved in the near future to help us achieve our aim, so watch this space!
Colin Walker, Policy and Campaigns Manager
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