Mental health waiting time targets cut in Wales

Depressed person - actor Image copyright Thinkstock

People with mental health problems are being promised faster access to treatment by the Welsh government.

The current 56 day waiting time target for treatment is to be halved to 28 days, Health Minister Mark Drakeford said.

Health boards have until next March to hit the new target and Mr Drakeford said there has already been "significant progress" in services.

Charities have warned of the growing mental health problem in Wales.

Under the old arrangements, patients had to be seen for an initial assessment within four weeks - and then there was another wait of up to eight weeks for treatment.

Now that wait for treatment time after being first evaluated has been cut to four weeks too.

The Welsh government said its waiting times for mental health assessment and treatment were are already more stringent than those in England.

Mental health in Wales


spending, 2015-16


of NHS budget

  • Women treated for mental illness 14%

  • Adults being treated for depression 9%

  • Rise in child and adolescent referrals since 2011 100%


NHS England has a target that 75% of adults should expect treatment within six weeks and 95% within 18 weeks.

Mr Drakeford said: "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."

Sara Moseley, director of Mind Cymru, the mental health charity, said the new target was "welcome" but more needed to be done, including improving the type of treatment offered to people.

"I think the minister is making it very clear that mental health is a priority and we welcome that but we think this is a journey," she added.

Under the old measure, 85.5% of patients in Wales were treated within the eight weeks of being assessed in June 2015. Cwm Taf health board had the best record with 97.7% meeting the target compared to only 67.4% in the Aneurin Bevan area.

But Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams said hundreds of young people would be"left behind" as they will still be subject to a longer 16 week target - one that is met only 50% of the time.

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