NHS psychological therapy audit shows positive results

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The psychological therapy received by NHS patients with anxiety and depression in England and Wales is, in general, of a good standard, albeit that it is hampered by substantial variations in quality, the first national audit of NHS-funded psychological therapy services has concluded.

The National audit of psychological therapies for anxiety and depression: national report 2011, commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership and carried out by the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Centre for Quality Improvement, collected data from 357 services and more than 10,000 people in therapy for anxiety and depression.

The report measured 10 standards, including patient satisfaction, effectiveness of therapy, waiting times and number of treatment sessions offered.

Some 80% of patients said that they felt well supported by their therapist and confident in their therapist’s ability, with nearly half saying they had recovered by the end of psychological therapy.

However, not all services routinely measured how well patients were before and after therapy, so it was not possible to draw firm conclusions about the effectiveness of all services in England and Wales.

Services were generally good at providing evidence-based psychological treatments recommended by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence.

Many services, particularly the larger ones, are also effective at ensuring that patients are seen quickly once referred.

However, speed of access to treatment varied, with one in seven waiting more than three months for their first appointment.

Older people were less likely to access psychological therapy compared with working-age adults, the report added.

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