Thousands waiting more than a month for talking therapies

Tens of thousands of patients with mental health problems in England are being forced to wait more than four weeks to access psychological treatments, leading to a call for providers to face stricter targets.

Over a third of patients waited more than a month for talkin therapies treatment

More than 80,000 of the 241,250 patients referred by GPs and other clinicians to talking therapies between April and June 2013 waited over 28 days to receive treatment, official figures show.

The data, released last week by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, cover providers of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme.

In June, care services minister Norman Lamb said the NHS must value physical and mental health equally and that the government must ensure this is 'more than just rhetoric'.

The charity Mind said ministers should hold providers to account over the long waiting lists.

Amy Whitelock, policy and campaigns manager at Mind, said: 'The government has committed to "parity of esteem" between physical and mental health and yet people with mental health problems are still not receiving the timely treatment they need.

'We are calling on the government to urgently establish access standards in IAPT so that people will be referred to these important services within 28 days.'

She said research showed people from black and minority ethnic groups were less likely to be referred to talking therapies, which is reflected in the latest figures.

Ms Whitelock said: 'Commissioners must ensure high quality talking therapies are made available to all people with mental health problems, regardless of their ethnic group or where they live.'

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