NHS overwhelmed by pandemic related mental health referrals
The NHS is struggling with “record high” specialist mental health referrals, it has been reported.
According to data analysed by the BBC, the number of people seeking specialist NHS mental health care in 2021 reached record levels.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists have suggested the pandemic caused “unprecedented demand” for specialist care with backlogged cases hindering the NHS’s ability to keep up.
Data released by NHS Digital indicate 4.3 million referrals for mental health services were recorded in 2021 for condition such as depression and anxiety.
Alarmingly, children or adolescents made up just under a quarter of referrals (1,025 million)
The previous two years recorded a combined total of 3.8 million referrals for specialist care.
The NHS delivered around 1.8 million mental health consultations in December 2021, the College have said.
It is believed around 1.4 million people are still waiting for treatment.
Those fortunate enough to have received mental health care were being sent away from their families for treatment due to availability in local services.
President Dr Adrian James said the pressure on mental health services across England continues to “ratchet up”
“The warning of the long tail of mental ill health caused by the pandemic has not been heeded”, he added.
“Many thousands of people will be left waiting far too long for the treatment they need unless the government wakes up to the crisis that is engulfing the country”
“We need a fully funded plan for mental-health services, backed by a long-term workforce plan, as the country comes to terms with the biggest hit to its mental health in generations.”
A government spokesperson has said they are “committed” to ensure everyone in need of treatment can acquire the help they need.
“We are investing an additional £2.3 billion a year into mental health services by 2023/24, on top of the £500 million we have made available to address the impact of the pandemic”, they added.
“We will be launching a national conversation to inform the development of a new long-term mental health plan later this year.”
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