NHS publishes waiting times for psychosis patients
Last week, the NHS published its latest waiting times statistics for Early Intervention in Psychosis revealing that more than 1,000 people referred by their GP are yet to receive any form of treatment for this mental health problem.1
The data shows that 1,183 are still waiting to start some form of treatment since they were first referred, with 10% of those still waiting after 12 weeks. Almost 600 of those still waiting for treatment are based in the North of England, with 267 living in the Midlands and East of England, 151 in London, 81 in the South West, and 89 in the South East.
This week, FitPro caught up with UKAT – a specialist addiction treatment centre – to find out its view on the latest findings. The organisation is particularly concerned by the long waiting times for psychosis because of the link between psychosis and substance misuse (although, it’s important to note that this is certainly not the only trigger of psychosis).
Eytan Alexander, founder of UKAT, told FitPro, “Over the last two years, UKAT has lodged detailed Freedom of Information requests to all 152 Upper Tier and Unitary councils responsible for the Government’s annual Public Health Grant, in order to ascertain how much of this grant they are allocating to substance misuse treatment services. Our findings date back to 2013 and, based on the results and our upward projection, we know that £100 million less is being spent on free drug and alcohol treatment services than in 2018, compared to five years ago.”
Despite this research not directly relating to the waiting times, UKAT is of strong belief that less money is being attributed to public treatment and will have a direct knock-on effect on the NHS, as more and more people suffering will be forced to go directly to an NHS facility or immediately to hospital, rather than to a local public service offering.
Patients at UKAT, however, can access any of its seven residential rehabilitation services within a matter of days and sometimes within 24 hours of asking for help.
For more information on UKAT’s services, visit: ukat.co.uk
So, what’s the reality?
Alexander says, “Anecdotally, we can say that more than half of all patients we treat every year first tried to get help through their GP or through local treatment services before enquiring to UKAT.”
A member of the FitPro team would like to see improved staffing at psychiatric hospitals. Could the answer be to ensure all staff members recruited have an absolute commitment to mental health services and their delivery?
To this proposed suggestion, UKAT’s founder responded, “Although this suggestion would be wonderful, it isn’t a realistic possibility. The NHS is so large that encouraging more robust and ‘relatable’ recruitment processes be put in place could hinder the service and staffing levels overall, which will have a negative effect on the NHS.”
What’s does ‘treatment’ look like?
FitPro editor’s view
In one NHS psychiatric hospital, which will remain unnamed, there was little interaction between patient and staff members, with some patients feeling lost, isolated, and left to sit in front of the television for hours at a time because there was very little else to do. Yes, these latest statistics go some way at reporting the alarming waiting times, yet, if the patient has access to ‘treatment’, what does this treatment look like? Frankly, just because they have a bed does not mean they are on the road to recovery – let’s see the bigger picture here and become more successful at delivering alternative treatment options. If you’re reading this, you will know that exercise should be more of a feature; it should not be up to visitors to go running with a patient around the garden of the hospital…
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<1> NHS Digital Early Intervention in Psychosis Waiting Times Statistics- released 10th January 2018