East London NHS Trust misses waiting time target for mental health patients, figures reveal
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Dozens of patients suffering from psychosis in the East London NHS Trust waited longer than the National Health Service’s target time to get care last year, new figures reveal.
NHS data shows 65 people with the mental health problem waited more than than two weeks in the 12 months from March 2018 to February this year.
This is longer than the time set out in a standard by the NHS, though the trust did meet a target stating at least 53 per cent of patients with the condition must start treatment within two weeks of referral.
East London NHS Trust covers Newham, Tower Hamlets, City of London, Hackney, Luton and Bedfordshire.
Of the people waiting longer than 14 days, five had to wait from six to 12 weeks for help, while one person waited 12 or more.
But the area is well above the national standard overall, with 89pc of patients diagnosed with psychosis in the trust receiving help within two weeks.
This was down on the previous 12 months, when 90pc were seen within two weeks.
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An East London NHS Trust spokesman said: "We work hard to ensure that people receive fast and effective treatment. Currently 89pc of people referred are seen within two weeks, above national NHS targets.
"The exceptions where people have waited more than two weeks is partly the result of missed appointments or where the first episode of psychosis was not initially identified in the referral screening process but subsequently assessed and referred later.
"As a Trust we are constantly seeking ways to be better and our quality improvement process that works in collaboration with service users themselves, is at the heart of that."
According to the NHS, people with psychosis have differences in perception and interpretation, with the two main symptoms being hallucinations and delusions.
On the national picture, Vicki Nash, head of policy and campaigns at the mental health charity, Mind, said: "Too often, people with mental health problems are let down by services.
"It's good to see the number of people receiving treatment within two weeks is increasing, but for those waiting more than two weeks, it is still too long."
In 2018-19, the 'access and waiting time standard' states that 53pc of people experiencing first episode psychosis should be treated within two weeks. The target will go up to 60pc by 2020-21.
Across England, around 12,900 patients experienced first episode psychosis in the 12 months to February this year.
Of these, 76pc started treatment within two weeks, well over the target of 53pc and a slight increase on the previous 12 months, when the rate stood at 75pc.
Mark Winstanley, CEO of Rethink Mental Illness, said national progress made in services for people experiencing psychosis for the first time had "resulted in thousands more people accessing quick and effective care".
He added: "However, given the clear regional variation in waiting times for treatment, we must be careful that impressive national figures do not mask the postcode lottery that still exists."
An NHS England spokesman said: "The fact is EIP services across the country are seeing an increasing number of people, in good time - with the majority of areas exceeding the national target, while NHS England has invested an additional £40 million each year since 2015 in EIP services, with an added annual allocation rising to £70 million."