Jeff Smith

Standing up for south Manchester

New figures show NHS blind spot on mental health waiting times

Figures released today by the British Medical Association (BMA) show that most mental healthcare commissioners and providers don’t record the number of people waiting for specialist therapies.
 
Freedom of Information (FoI) requests made by the BMA to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and NHS mental health trusts revealed nine in 10 (166) of the 183 CCGs who responded have no records of waiting times for talking therapies for treating severe mental illness last year.
 
For those CCGs and Trusts which did respond, the BMA found 3,700 patients waited more than six months for talking therapies. Around 1,500 patients waited longer than a year before therapy started, with year-long waits found in two-thirds of responding mental health trusts. Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust recorded 373 patients currently waiting over a year to access talking therapies.
 
Hospital trusts pointed to rising demand and a national shortage of the right kind of therapists, as reasons for long waits.
 
Commenting on the figures, Jeff said:
 
“For those living with severe mental health conditions, waiting over a year can be devastating.
 
It’s clear from the BMA’s investigation that not only are waiting times for specialist therapies too long, but we lack the data needed to hold trusts, CCGS, and ultimately the Government accountable.
 
These figures are yet more evidence of the yawning gap between the Prime Minister’s promise to ‘transform mental health services’ and the reality facing cash-strapped CCGs and trusts.
 
Ministers must ask themselves how long they can go on cutting mental health budgets while patients and staff are put under unbearable pressure.
 
It’s time Jeremy Hunt faced the reality on the ground and ring-fenced mental health budgets.”
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