Psychosis delay misery for dozens of sufferers with mental health condition

Across England around 12,900 patients experienced first episode psychosis in the 12 months to February this year. Library image
Across England around 12,900 patients experienced first episode psychosis in the 12 months to February this year. Library image
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Dozens of patients suffering from psychosis in the North West Boroughs Healthcare Trust waited longer than the NHS target time to get care last year, new figures reveal.

NHS data shows 44 people with the mental health problem were kept waiting longer than two weeks in the 12 months from March 2018 to February this year.

This is longer than the time set out in a standard by the NHS, though the trust did meet a target stating that at least 53 per cent of patients with the condition must start treatment within two weeks of referral.

Of those waiting longer than that, seven people had to wait from six to 12 weeks to get help, while one person waited 12 weeks or more.

But the area is still well above the national standard overall, with 82 per cent of patients diagnosed with psychosis in the North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Trust receiving help within two weeks.

This was down on the previous 12 months, when 86 per cent were seen within two weeks.

According to the NHS, people with psychosis have differences in perception and interpretation, with the two main symptoms being hallucinations and delusions.

In 2018-19, the ‘access and waiting time standard’ states that 53 per cent of people experiencing first episode psychosis should be treated within two weeks. The target will go up to 60 per cent by 2020-21.

Across England, around 12,900 patients experienced first episode psychosis in the 12 months to February this year.

Of these, 76 per cent started treatment within two weeks, well over the target of 53 per cent and a slight increase on the previous 12 months, when the rate stood at 75 per cent.

Vicki Nash, head of policy and campaigns at the mental health charity Mind, said: “We know that too often, people with mental health problems are let down by services.

“It’s good to see the number of people who are receiving treatment within two weeks is increasing, but for those waiting more than two weeks, it is still too long.”

Mark Winstanley, CEO of Rethink Mental Illness, said national progress made in services for people experiencing psychosis for the first time had “resulted in thousands more people accessing quick and effective care”.

He added: “However, given the clear regional variation in waiting times for treatment, we must be careful that impressive national figures do not mask the postcode lottery that still exists.”

An NHS England spokesman said: “The fact is EIP services across the country are seeing an increasing number of people, in good time.

“The majority of areas are exceeding the national target, while NHS England has invested an additional £40 million each year since 2015 in EIP services, with an added annual allocation rising to £70 million,” added Mr Winstanley