Deputy Prime Minister announces improvements to mental health services, including introduction of first-ever waiting time standards
Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has announced that treatment for mental health conditions will be brought into line with other NHS services with the introduction of the first-ever waiting time standards.
Together with a £120m injection into mental health services, from April 2015 most patients needing talking therapies – for conditions like depression – will be guaranteed the treatment they need in as little as six weeks, with a maximum wait of 18 weeks.
For many patients experiencing their first episode of psychosis, the NHS will start to provide treatment within two weeks of referral – bringing it into line with consultations for cancer.
Evidence shows that treating psychosis rapidly can dramatically improve patients’ chances of recovery and potentially save £44m each year in hospital admissions.
Clegg said: “It’s wrong that people needing a hip operation can expect treatment within a clear time frame, but someone with a debilitating mental health condition has no clarity about when they will get help.
“For years, NHS waiting standards have existed for patients with physical ailments and they have drastically cut long waits. Now we are finally ending the injustice of people with mental health conditions waiting far too long for treatment with the first-ever waiting time standards for NHS mental health services.”
The announcement is part of a radical five-year plan to end years of imbalance between mental and physical healthcare services, backed by £40m this year and £80m freed up next year.