One In Six Consider Suicide On NHS Mental Health Waiting Lists

One In Ten Wait Over A Year For Mental Health Assessments On NHS Lists

16.09.2014

A significant number of patients with mental health conditions think about taking their own lives while on NHS waiting lists for treatment, a new report has revealed.

Research carried out by the We Need To Talk Coalition - which is comprised of 18 organisations including various charities, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Royal College of General Practitioners - discovered lengthy waits to see specialists were leading to patient safety issues.

The body conducted a survey involving more than 2,000 people who had attempted to receive help for their mental illness in the form of talking therapy, finding that nearly one in ten had been required to wait for more than 12 months between the referral and assessment stages of their treatment.

In particular, the report focused on referrals taking place under the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) scheme, which includes counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy for those suffering from anxiety and depression.

Most areas recorded between 1,000 and 3,000 IAPT referrals in the last quarter of 2013, but the figures in some locations came in at under 100, indicating that not all patients are receiving the care they need.

Some 41 per cent of patients had to wait over three months before being assessed, with two-thirds (67 per cent) reporting that their condition had become worse while they waited.

Furthermore, it was found that four in ten respondents had self-harmed while on an NHS waiting list, with one in six (16 per cent) contemplating committing suicide.

Chief executive of mental health charity Mind Paul Farmer commented: "In some parts of the country, investment in IAPT and other models has transformed lives as people have been able to access the help they need when they need it.

"But far too many are facing unacceptably long waits or are struggling to even get a referral. This simply isn't good enough."

In light of this, Mr Farmer is calling on the government elected in next May's general election to make mental health care more of a priority, by introducing targeted waiting times and enabling increased access to psychological therapies, with these ideally being available to patients within 28 days of referral.

If you or a loved one has suffered due to professional or clinical negligence from a mental health practitioner, or at worst your loved one has died, we can help you to claim compensation. Visit our Mental Health Negligence Claims page for more information.

Expert Opinion
The statistics in this latest report are extremely worrying and it is crucial that a thorough investigation into waiting times for mental health services is carried out and any failings identified are corrected, in a bid to reduce the stress and trauma faced by those suffering with mental health issues without access to the help they need.

“All patients deserve to have access to the best possible standard of care and this is something that mental health facilities must ensure. Tragically, we see numerous cases in which people have suffered injuries or died as a result of not being given timely mental health treatment and support and this is an issue that is unacceptable and needs to change immediately.

“The ultimate aim of the NHS and the Government must be to ensure that the voices of vulnerable members of society are always heard and that they have access to help and support where necessary.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner