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Psychological therapy: big difference in waiting times across the country

September 17, 2014: People referred for anxiety or depression therapy have a markedly different wait for treatment depending on where they live in England, new figures show.

*HSCIC must be quoted as the source of these figures

*Regional figures are available

In 2013-14, the proportion of referrals (to IAPT2 services) seen within 28 days of referral ranged from three per cent in one Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area to 96 per cent in another, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

Nationally, of the 709,000 referrals entering treatment in 2013-14, about six in 10 had their first treatment appointment within 28 days of referral (435,000 or 61 per cent), and about nine in 10 within 90 days (632,000, or 89 per cent).

Today's figures are from the HSCIC's second annual report about psychological therapies, which shows IAPT services received 1.1 million referrals in 2013-14. These related to just fewer than 950,000 individuals, of whom:

  • Almost two thirds were for females (63 per cent, or 597,000)
  • 25 to 29-year-olds had the highest access rate by age, at just over three per 100. This compares to just under two in every 100 of the overall adult population

Today's report shows that in 2013-14:

  • Just fewer than 920,000 referrals (this figure will include referrals made this year and some continued from the previous year) ended. Of these:

- Four in 10 had finished a course of treatment (364,000, or 40 per cent),3 and more than half of these showed reliable improvement (218,000, or 60 per cent)

- Almost four in 10 ended without being seen by the IAPT service (336,000, or 37 per cent)

  • Of the 160,000 referrals where the person was taking psychotropic medication at the start of treatment, almost 20,000 (13 per cent) were no longer being prescribed it at the end of treatment

Today's report also includes a new level of detail on activity by provisional diagnosis, although this information is not recorded for all referrals. Just under six in 10 (59 per cent , or 415,000) of referrals entering treatment in the year had a recorded diagnosis.The most common diagnosis for those referrals entering treatment in the year was 'mixed anxiety and depressive disorder' at 15% (108,489) of all referrals entering treatment in the year.

Considering finished treatment courses, the mean number of treatment sessions varied by diagnosis; ranging from nine for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), to five for Mental and Behavioural disorders due to alcohol.

The highest level of recovery was for referrals with a provisional diagnosis of 'specific isolated phobias' (964 out of 1533 referrals recovered, or 63 per cent).

HSCIC chair Kingsley Manning said: "Today's report provides a new dimension of understanding to this important area of care. Depression and anxiety are known to affect a broad spectrum of people within our society - and today's figures point to almost two thirds of referrals for Psychological Therapy being for women.

"It is vital to ensure those in charge of commissioning services have as much salient information at their fingertips as possible. For example, one of our other recent reports showed there were almost 9,000 hospital admissions for anxiety in the 12 months to November of last year, almost two thirds of which were for women.5"

To view today's report visit:


Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). It is England's trusted data source, delivering high quality information and IT systems to drive better patient services, care and outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 220 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.
  2. The experimental figures presented in this annual report provide a picture of activity in Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services and the people that use them in 2013-14. The IAPT programme is designed to provide services for those suffering from anxiety and depression disorders and the purpose of the IAPT dataset is to support reporting on the treatment of these individuals, although locally IAPT services may also have expanded to treat other psychological disorders. The information presented uses version one of the IAPT dataset, which was first reported on in quarter one of 2012-13. The report also uses the latest mid-year population figures from the Office for National Statistics, as well as data regarding population by ethnicity based on the 2011 Census.
  3. Figures in this press release have been rounded (but more detailed figures are available from the report and supporting tables). Figures below 100,000 have been rounded to the nearest 1000. Figures below 1 million have be rounded to the nearest 10,000.
  4. A finished course of treatment must have at least two treatment appointments.
  5. Figures on hospital admissions for stress and anxiety are at:
  6. For media enquiries please contact or 0300 30 33 888. Please note our new media line number.
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