Patients without private medical insurance suffering from anxiety and depression are waiting too long for treatment on the NHS, a major survey has shown.
The national audit of psychological therapies (NAPT) was carried out by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. The audit collected data from 357 NHS-funded services across England and Wales, and over 10,000 patients in therapy for anxiety and depression.
Results show that one in seven patients waited more than three months for the first appointment. Whilst 85 per cent of patients were seen within 13 weeks of referral, this varied widely depending on the area they lived in.
Long waiting times were a frequently cited area of concern by patients completing the survey.
As set out by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), 83 per cent of patients were given the recommended therapy for their condition. However, the audit highlighted that most of these patients are not receiving the minimum amount of treatment.
NICE recommends that people with mild depression having talking therapies including CBT should receive 16-20 sessions over three to four months.
In fact, just 18 per cent of patients with anxiety received the minimum number of sessions. Additionally, 70 per cent of patients who had high intensity therapy for severe mental health problems did not receive the minimum number of sessions.
Professor Mike Crawford, director of the Centre for Quality Improvement and lead for NAPT said: "The variation between services means that there remains plenty of room for improvement. These findings will help individual NHS services see where they can improve and provide even better treatment in the future."
If you have psychiatric cover on your private medical insurance policy, you will be covered for private therapy with a specialist of your choice, at a time of your choice, so compare health insurance policies online now.
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