NHS therapy services in Wakefield are hitting waiting time targets despite long waits across the rest of England

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Therapy services in Wakefield are hitting waiting time targets despite long waits across the rest of England, according to NHS data.

In May, all of the 530 people who had their first treatment appointment in the Wakefield clinical commissioning group (CCG) waited less than six weeks since they were first referred. None of the people waited for longer than a month.

Mental health charity Mind has said that long waiting times for therapy can have "devastating" consequences on patients, and has praised services that deliver a person-focused approach.

Mind's Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer Emily Waller said: "It's really positive to see that in some areas, people are getting timely access to treatment.

"For those of us experiencing mental health problems, getting the right support at the right time can be crucial to recovery."

"Mental health services are under a lot of pressure, and it's great to see that, in some areas, CCGs are working hard to ensure that people get treatment as soon as possible."

NHS England's Improved Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme aims to improve the delivery of therapy services across a range of conditions, including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and PTSD.

NHS targets state that 75 per cent of IAPT service users should have their first treatment appointment within six weeks of referral, and 95 per cent within 18 weeks.

Many CCGs in England are hitting these targets, but in some areas the majority of people face wait times of more than three months for their second treatment appointment.

In the Wakefield CCG, there were 415 people having their second appointment during May 2018.

Of these, 30 waited more than a month between appointments - a rate of 7 per cent.

An estimated 10 people waited more than three months - 2 per cent of the total.

In other parts of the country the proportion of patients waiting more than three months between appointments rises to almost 90%.

An NHS England spokesperson said that the agreed waiting time targets for referral to first treatment have been met.

Nationally, 90 per cent of people waited less than 6 weeks to start treatment, and 99 per cent of people waited less than 18 weeks.

Mind has said that the targets set by the NHS are not ambitious enough, and has called for people to be seen within 28 days, instead of six weeks.

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) expressed concerns that the IAPT workforce has not been sufficiently expanded to deal with the demand for the service.

A BACP spokesperson said: "It is vital that talking therapies are available as and when they are required.

"The right support at the right time can improve long term effects on self esteem and reduce the chance of continued mental health issues."