Mind today welcomes a landmark announcement from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg of the first ever mental health waiting times standards.
Waiting time for talking therapies forms part of a five year plan, launched today, which sets out how mental health services will be treated as equally as important as physical health services by 2020.
From April 2015, 75 per cent of people referred for talking treatments through the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme will be guaranteed treatment within six weeks, with a maximum wait of 18 weeks. People experiencing psychosis for the first time will start treatment within two weeks of referral, which brings it in line with cancer treatments.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive at Mind, said: “This is a landmark moment for mental health. For too long, people accessing mental health services have not had the same right to timely treatment that we all expect if we have a physical health problem. We know from our work as part of the We Need to Talk coalition that, as a consequence, one in ten still wait over a year to access talking therapy. Today’s announcement not only acknowledges the unfair imbalance that has long existed between physical and mental health services, it is the first clear commitment from Government to take the practical steps needed to tackle it.
“Over recent years we have heard fine words from the Department of Health and NHS England about finally treating mental health with the same importance we give physical health but, in the face of cuts to services, the reality has been that the gap has widened and services have failed thousands. It’s good to see some additional funding committed in this plan.
“We now need to see these important ambitions translate into tangible improvements for everyone trying to access the help they need.”
A part of the We Need to Talk coalition, Mind has been campaigning around waiting times for a number of years. It also makes up one of the six campaign points in our Election Manifesto. See Mind’s Election campaign for ways to get involved with this work in the lead up to next year’s General Election.
We want to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to all of our members, campaigners and partners for helping to make this happen.