New measures to ensure faster primary care mental health treatment in Wales

The primary care waiting time target for treating people experiencing mental ill health in Wales is being cut from 56 to 28 days to ensure faster access to treatment, Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford has announced today (Tuesday 3rd November).

The Welsh Government introduced waiting times for assessment and treatment by local primary mental health support services in 2012.

People referred for a mental health assessment should be seen within 28 days. Following assessment, those who need treatment should receive it within 56 days.

The 56-day assessment to treatment target has now changed to become a 28-day target to ensure people have timely access to treatment. The previous combined waiting time was 12 weeks.
All health boards will be expected to show progress towards meeting this new target by the end of the financial year.

Waiting times for mental health assessment and treatment in Wales are already more stringent than those in England. In April 2015, NHS England introduced a target that 75% of adults should expect treatment within six weeks and 95% within 18 weeks.

Announcing the changes, Professor Drakeford said:

“One in four people in Wales will, at some point in their lives, experience mental ill health. That’s why mental health is one of the Welsh Government’s main priorities.

“Since 2011, we have made significant progress in improving the services, care and support available for people experiencing mental ill health in Wales with the introduction of the Mental Health (Wales) Measure 2010.

“This announcement will help ensure timely access to treatment, ensuring people who need expert care and support receive the right services in the right place at the right time. Some organisations are already meeting or are close to meeting this new target. I expect other health boards to make progress towards meeting this tighter target by the end of March.”