NHS analyses success of psychological therapy service

Two patients in five with depression and anxiety who complete a programme of NHS psychological therapy make a recovery from their condition, according to an analysis by the NHS Information Centre.

However, the study also showed that patterns of access to NHS psychological therapies and the recovery rate following completion of the treatment varied markedly from place to place for the estimated six million people in England who suffer from such conditions.

Improving access to psychological therapies key performance indicators Q1 Apr 2011 – Jun 2011 was the first report to examine the impact of the NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme, which is being rolled out across England between 2008 and 2015.

The first quarterly results showed that 42% of patients who completed treatment under the programme during the period were no longer “at caseness”, in other words, no longer showing measurable symptoms of depression or anxiety disorder at their last therapy session.

Recovery rates for those who completed treatment varied between primary care trusts (PCTs), ranging from 7% in one PCT to 63% in another.

This difference in rates could be associated with the roll-out of the IAPT programme, as some sites started delivering services more recently than others, according to the NHS Information Centre.

About 2% of people who are estimated to have depression or an anxiety disorder in England entered treatment under the programme during the quarter.

This proportion varied by PCT, from 0.2% to 5%. During the period, 210,540 people were referred for psychological therapies; 123,975 entered treatment and 5,001 who had completed treatment moved off sick pay and benefits.

A separate study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health has argued that six months after starting therapy, people that have been referred to the NHS psychological therapies programme attended A&E less often than those not accessing the service.

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