NHS groups in England missing mental health targets, data shows

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in England are missing targets set for mental health treatment, data shows.

Figures show that all CCGs in England have patients waiting longer than the national target of 18 weeks for treatment.

Nearly 45 percent of patients within the Cheshire CCG have waited longer than the NHS target, despite the area having an average wait time of 13 weeks.

In contrast, Portsmouth has an average waiting time of 6 weeks, with only 1.3 percent of patients waiting more than 18 weeks to be seen.

Despite this, NHS England says that 90 percent of all mental health patients waited less than six weeks for their first appointment – the average waiting time for a first appointment in England is 21 days.

However, the waiting time between a first and second appointment is almost twice as long, with the average patient waiting 53 days between appointments.

According to Public Health England, of patients with a diagnosed mental health condition, less than 22 percent are in contact with mental health services – PHE says this data is “decreasing and getting worse.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic, almost three-in-10 adults reported experiencing psychological distress. One-in-five adults reported that they were taking medication in the pandemic in order to help them with their mental health.

Of adults referred for therapy, areas in the North West account for the highest four numbers of referrals – Manchester, Salford, Oldham and Bolton report the highest numbers of therapy referrals in the country.

Further reports show that older people are less likely to seek help for mental health conditions than young adults – in 2017, more than one-in-10 over 65s were suffering with common mental disorders.

Although young people are more likely to seek help, 58.1 percent of young people with mental health concerns reportedly do not seek professional advice.

According to NHS England, although everyone is entitled to receive treatment within an 18-week window, there are mitigating circumstances: “Your right to an 18-week waiting time does not apply if:

“You choose to wait longer.

“Delaying the start of your treatment is in your best clinical interests, for example, when stopping smoking or losing weight first is likely to improve the outcome of your treatment.

“It is clinically appropriate for your condition to be actively monitored in secondary care without clinical intervention or diagnostic procedures at that stage.

“You fail to attend appointments that you had chosen from a set of reasonable options.

“The treatment is no longer necessary.”