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Three in 10 patients referred to inadequate mental health services, survey reveals

By Léa Legraien
20 November 2018

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Almost three in 10 people with a mental health condition are not referred to the right services, a survey has revealed.

A report – Right Treatment, Right Time – published by the charity Rethink Mental Illness yesterday showed that 28% of people diagnosed with a mental health issue are not referred by their GP to adequate services.

The findings come ahead of the long-awaited long-term plan for the NHS, which will set out a vision to achieve parity between mental and physical health, among other priorities.

Inadequate referrals  

Among more than 1,600 adults who have used NHS mental health services for support, Rethink Mental Illness found that 28% believed they had not been referred by their GP to the adequate services.

The survey also showed that people living with a complex and severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, wait for an average of 14 weeks to get assessed, with one in 10 facing six-month waiting times. This compares to 19 weeks for people waiting to receive the treatment they need.

At the moment, the charity estimates that severe mental health conditions cost the NHS and social care services around £7.2bn per year.

Late, wrong treatment

Last month, Prime Minister Theresa May said that the £20.5bn funding boost for the NHS means that ‘record investment’ will be made in mental health services.

Despite the Government pledge to improve mental health services, Rethink Mental Health Illness said that clear pathways should be developed, including the implementation of two-week waiting time standard for people suffering psychosis and seeking treatment.

Rethink Mental Illness deputy chief executive officer Brian Dow said: ‘What we want is right treatment, right time but what we too often have is wrong treatment, too late.

‘Thousands of people find themselves in desperate situations every year, but have to contend with long waits, bureaucracy, and a severe lack of choice about their care. The result is that far too many people reach crisis point before getting help.

‘There has been lots of effort to improve things and the upcoming NHS England long-term plan is a golden opportunity to meet the challenge of 21st century mental healthcare.’

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