'Patients with serious mental health issues leading them to self-harm or attempt suicide are being left to wait as long as two years for specialist support because of an NHS “blind spot” on waiting times, an investigation has found.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has warned that thousands of patients are waiting more than six months for access to psychological “talking therapies” to help them cope with negative thoughts and feelings.
However the true extent of the waiting time problem is likely to be much larger.
The BMA investigation found that just one in 10 local NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) who and just over half of mental health trusts keep track of how long these patients are waiting.
Doctors warned of a growing inequality faced by people with serious mental health problems who often need both medication and face to face therapies but have seen little improvement.
This contrasts to the efforts made in improving access to support for mild anxiety and depression thorugh the targets in the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme.
The BMA made requests under the Freedom of Information Act to all 207 CCG, the bodies responsible for commissioning NHS services, and 54 NHS mental health trusts to ask them about waiting times for accessing talking therapies.'
Read more: NHS patients with severe mental illness waiting up to two years for treatment, report finds
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