Low treatment take-up heightens concerns over impact of draft bill
Three-quarters of people with a mental illness are missing out on
treatment, according to the annual report on the state of the NHS,
writes Simeon Brody.
he audit by the independent Healthcare Commission reveals that,
although access to care for people with mental health problems has
improved, some services still fall short of national
Fewer than half of mental health service users had access to crisis
care when they needed it and only two-thirds of community-based
crisis resolution teams operated 24 hours.
The audit will add to concern that services will be unable to cope
with the impact of the draft Mental Health Bill, which some fear
will lead to more compulsory treatment.
Last week, the government confirmed that the bill will not focus on
service provision and instead will only cover the legal framework
for bringing people under compulsion.
Although the commission did not collect information on waiting
times for mental care, the vacancy rate for consultant
psychiatrists stands at 11 per cent, supporting reports that
patients face lengthy waits for appointments, the study
Only 8 per cent of people with depression had seen a psychiatrist
and only 3 per cent had seen a psychologist “despite strong
evidence that both drugs and psychological treatments could provide
real benefits to people with mental health problems”, the report
It blames a shortage of specialist staff and a lack of training for
GPs for the low take-up of services.
Angela Greatley, chief executive of the Sainsbury Centre for Mental
Health, said mental health waiting times had to be reduced.
She said: “We still do not know for sure how long it takes for
people to get access to mental health care – especially many of the
popular talking therapies. In many places, waiting times of more
than a year are reported.”
- Report from www.healthcarecommission.org.uk