Psychological therapies waiting times

Statement by Stephen Brown, Interim Director, North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership

Specialist psychological services in Ayrshire and Arran provide a wide range of services that improve the quality of life for many local people with mental health problems. In line with wider population changes there has been a rapid growth in the demand for psychological services and psychological therapies.

The published statistics show that 76 per cent of patients waiting to see a mental health therapist were seen within the target of 18 weeks, falling short of the 90 per cent target, and we would like to apologise to anyone who has had to wait longer than this.

The term ‘psychological therapies' covers a wide range of different services, some of which are meeting or exceeding the target. These include medical paediatrics psychology, community eating disorders, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), learning disabilities and clinical health psychology. That does not detract, however, from those areas of service where improvement is required.

Outside of specialist psychological services, the Primary Care Mental Health Teams are also facing increased demand from those with mild-to-moderate mental health problems, which has led to increased waiting times.

The integration of services within the three local health and social care partnerships has created the opportunity to review how psychological services and Primary Care Mental Health Teams services are delivered. This means we can look at ways to improve services to meet the increasing demand and to deliver services differently, including community education. This work is well underway and we are currently in the process of increasing the psychology and psychological therapy workforce with a recruitment programme.

In addition, a programme of computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) was launched in April 2017 to increase access to low intensity psychological therapies in primary care.

These initiatives are all part of an improvement plan to ensure that we are working towards achieving the target across all services over the next 12 months.