Private sector to cut mental health patient waiting times


Private sector to cut mental health patient waiting times

By Rachel O'Rourke

Scores of NHS Primary Care Trusts (PCT) have selected adult psychological therapies as one of three services to be opened up to help from the private sector.

A total of 26 PCTs, listed as those with the longest waiting times for mental health treatment in the UK, have said they plan to invite private companies to ‘bid’ to deliver talking therapies to patients.

Under government plans to allow patients greater freedom when choosing the best treatments for them, three NHS services will become open to qualified private institutions who will compete against each other to win contracts with the Department of Health, all at the most competitive price.

According to Health Insurance Magazine, Wirral PCT – amongst those backing the plan – uncovered a waiting list of 67 weeks for patients suffering mild to moderate depression and wanting to receive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy on the NHS. Nottinghamshire County PCT reported that the wait there could be up to a year.

The scheme says that standards set by the NHS will have to be met by the private sector service providers and a winning bidder will need to meet pricing budgets for each council.

The chosen partner, under guidance rules from the Department of Health, will also need to fulfil mandatory objectives whilst in the role, including helping people maintain and return to work, offer support to help them access education and help people take part in “meaningful activity”.

In addition to leasing-out mental health services to the private sector, a total of 36 PCTs chose also to call on firms to assist their musculoskeletal departments for back pain - a big contributor to patient’s long-term sick leave from work. The list included many health trusts in London and the North West.

The government first initiated the plans to extend patient choice to external, qualified providers in July 2011, when they listed high-priority services needing support, including mental health aids.

The initiative aims to drive quality of services through greater competition between independent providers in the private sector, all falling under the Government’s push for NHS reform.

The Department of Health will now work towards developing strategies to help patients and PCTs choose suitable providers.

Your rating: None Average: 6 (1 vote)