Fewer than half of the patients who sought NHS help last year for anxiety and depression received any treatment, an official report into the government’s “talking therapies” programme reveals.

While GPs made 883,968 referrals for psychological support in England in 2012-13, only 434,247 (49%) of these led to someone suffering from mental health problems starting treatment, according to a report in the Gulf Times. 

This has prompted renewed concern that many patients are having to wait too long - sometimes more than a year after being referred for therapy - to have their first appointment.

“The gap between the numbers of people being referred and those actually entering treatment is cause for significant concern and echoes our own research, which shows that people are waiting far too long between referral and starting therapy,” said Vicki Nash, head of policy and campaigns at the mental health charity Mind.

The figures are in the first annual report by the NHS’s Health and Social Care Information Centre into the improving access to psychological therapies scheme, published last week.
Labour introduced the programme in 2008 to help people suffering psychological distress and it has been continued, with extra funding, by the coalition.

The other 449,721 (51%) of all those referred did not receive a first treatment during 2012-13, of whom 166,458 (37%) were still waiting at the end of the year, it confirmed.

In all 274,975 (63%) of the 434,247 referrals who did get a first treatment were seen within 28 days. But 20% (86,850) had to wait between 29 and 56 days, another 9% (39,082) had to wait 57-90 days and a further 8% (34,740) were not seen for more than 90 days.