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Mental Health Patient Waiting Times: North-West

Volume 654: debated on Tuesday 19 February 2019

13. What steps his Department is taking to reduce waiting times for mental health patients in the north-west. (909315)

National waiting time standards for early intervention in psychosis, improved access to psychological therapies and services for children and young people with eating disorders are already being met, or are on track to be met by 2020-21, in the north-west. We will introduce new waiting times and targets under the NHS long-term plan, and we have an ambition to deliver many more treatments for all who need them.

Adult waiting times in Wirral for talking therapies to treat anxiety and depression are some of the worst in the country. The average waiting time between referral and first treatment is 48 days, and between referral and second treatment, when we know that someone needs help, it is 159 days. Will the Minister thank all the volunteers in Wirral who are trying to help those who are suffering from anxiety and depression, and will she explain to me what she is going to do to stop this crisis?

First, I certainly thank all the volunteers who do so much to support people in mental ill health. It is worth emphasising the role of the voluntary sector in that regard, and I encourage clinical commissioning groups to consider commissioning additional services form the sector, because so much of that wraparound care is as important as clinical intervention to repairing mental health.

There have been problems with the improving access to psychological therapies programme and with recovery targets in the past. The Wirral CCG has told me that the backlog of more than 1,000 patients has been cleared after it provided additional funds and that the IAPT targets are now being met, but obviously I will keep the position under review, and I thank the hon. Lady for raising the issue.