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Room for improvement: more can be done to ensure parity of esteem between physical and mental health

Today the National Health Action (NHA) Party called on NHS England to adopt a waiting time target for secondary and follow up appointments for talking therapies, as part of its programme for Improved Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT).

The announcement came after it was revealed that St Helens CCG had a 100% success rate of ensuring that no patients referred for therapy waited more than six weeks for a first treatment upon referral.

Current NHS guidelines stipulate that no more than 75% of service users should have their first treatment within six weeks of referral and 95% within 18 weeks.

However, it was also revealed that whilst the CCG was a shining example to others across the country, there was also a wider issue affecting CCGs across England; there being no targets for secondary and follow up appointments. This has resulted in service users experiencing large gaps between their initial treatment and follow up treatment. In the case of St Helens, it was revealed that 67% of those who went for further treatment waited over a month between their appointments.

Reacting to the figures a spokesperson for the NHA stated: ‘St Helens ought to be commended for its performance in terms of facilitating initial treatments. But, we cannot deny that the figures also demonstrate the NHS still has much work to do in ensuring parity of esteem between physical and mental health. NHS England needs to adopt an ambitious target for follow up treatments’


The National Health Action (NHA) Party was founded in 2012 to oppose the growing marketisation of the NHS.

The NHA Party stood against Jeremy Hunt in his SW Surrey constituency in the 2015 and 2017 General Elections, taking 12,093 votes in the latter: a 7.8% swing to NHA.

Dr Phil Hammond is the NHA’s latest parliamentary candidate and will be standing against Jacob Rees-Mogg at the next general election.

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