How to speed up access to therapy in the Hastings area?

The We Need to Talk Coalition is calling for the NHS in England to offer a full range of evidence- based psychological therapies to all who need them within 28 days of requesting a referral, and this wait should be even shorter when someone presents with a mental health emergency.

My experience as a counsellor practising in the Hastings area is that it can be distressing for those in need of therapy to be told that they have got to wait some months to see someone. But private counsellors are generally able to offer quick access to counselling, without any waiting list.

 The coalition includes BACP, the professional body to which most qualified counsellors group belong. A new report from the coalition argues that accessing the right treatment at the right time can mean recovering well from a mental health problem. Timely access to good quality psychological therapy provision is essential. Although the report finds that the Government has made good progress with its Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme, there is still much to do before people with mental health problems receive the crucial help and support they need. 

 The full report can be seen at

 The report shows that many people are waiting a long time to get access to therapy:

 • One in 10 people have been waiting over a year to receive treatment.

• Over half have been waiting over three months to receive treatment.

• Around 13 per cent of people are still waiting for their first assessment for psychological therapy.

 Timely access to mental health services is a critical issue. Considerable harm can be caused by long waits for psychological therapies, which can exacerbate mental health problems and lead to a person experiencing a mental health crisis. The wider human costs of long waiting times are devastating and can have detrimental effects on all aspects of a person’s life. Yet far too many people are still waiting too long to receive treatment.

 The Health and Social Care Act 2012 put mental health on a par with physical health and the Government reiterated this commitment through its current mental health strategy No health without mental health. Furthermore, the current Mandate to NHS England clearly requires it to achieve parity of esteem between mental and physical health. As a first step towards achieving this commitment, timely and appropriate access to psychological therapies must be available in the NHS to all who need them.

 The Mandate sets specific objectives on establishing access standards for IAPT services, yet the coalition’s research has shown that demand for crucial psychological therapies continues to increase while people are still waiting far too long to access a service. While the coalition fully welcomes the pledge to establish access standards for IAPT services, they remain extremely concerned that the Government are at risk of failing to meet their duty to deliver parity of esteem between mental and physical health, if waiting times for psychological therapies continue to increase.

 Choice is also an issue, according to the report:

 • 58 per cent of people weren’t offered choice in the type of therapies they received.

• Three quarters of people were not given a choice in where they received their treatment.

• Half felt the number of sessions weren’t enough.

• 11 per cent said they had to pay for treatment because the therapy they wanted was not available on the NHS.

 Choice is a fundamental part of delivering good quality NHS healthcare and it also underpins the Government’s recent NHS reforms. Choice is also associated with better response to treatment. In our survey, people were more likely to report therapy helped them recover if they were able to choose the type of treatment, where they access the appointment and when. However, from the research, it is clear that many people are still not being offered a choice in the type of therapy they receive or when and where they receive this treatment. 

• 40 per cent of people had to request psychological therapies rather than being offered them.

• One in ten people, after being assessed, were not offered psychological therapies.

• Only one in ten people felt their cultural needs were taken into account by the service they were offered, though most others said this didn’t matter to them.


added at 12:01am on 23rd January 2014

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