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Hundreds of people face long wait for NHS psychological therapy in West Suffolk, according to data

By Newsdesk Bury

Hundreds of people in West Suffolk waited up to three months for NHS psychological therapy, figures reveal.

Mental health charity Mind labelled the figures ‘worrying’ and warned long waits between sessions could impact recovery from mental health conditions.

NHS Digital data shows 750 people in the West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group area waited more than a month for a second therapy appointment between February 2018 and January 2019, with 70 waiting at least three months.

Mental health stock images (8684846)
Mental health stock images (8684846)

Overall, more than a third of patients having NHS therapy in West Suffolk waited at least a month between appointments. There is no NHS target for second appointments.

Geoff Heyes, head of health policy at Mind, said: “We find it really worrying people are facing such long waits between their first and second therapy appointments, meaning they are more likely to become more unwell before their next session.”

NHS England’s Improved Access to Psychological Therapy programme aims to improve therapy services for conditions including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress.

Targets state that 75 per cent of thosen the programme should have their first treatment appointment within six weeks of referral and 95 per cent within 18 weeks.

In West Suffolk, 4,800 people had their first therapy session over the 12-month period, with 90 per cent of them in treatment within six weeks of being referred and 99.9 per cent seen within 18 weeks.

A spokesman for NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We want everyone to be able to access the mental health care they need as quickly as possible.

"In our CCG area we far exceed national standards for accessing therapy appointments.

“Because the needs of individuals differ there are no nationally set standards for accessing second appointments, but we know how important continuity of care is.

“We continue to work hard with our partners to further improve mental health services locally.”

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