NHS England’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme (IAPT) has missed targets in 55 of 195 local areas during the first half of the year, according to research by the BBC.

It found that in 28 areas fewer than half of patients were successfully treated during the January to March and April to June periods. Another 27 areas missed the target in at least one quarter.

The NHS in England is targeted with successfully treating half of the people it sees for conditions like depression and anxiety with therapies such as counselling.

The Head of Policy and Communications for BACP, Suky Kaur, said: “It is disappointing to see that there are so many people in need of counselling who are not being given a chance to receive the therapy they need. This needs to change. We’ve been working closely with NHS England to increase the use of counselling under the IAPT programme. We have thousands of highly trained counsellors that could be employed to help these people if the service was funded appropriately, and we’ve been working hard to make sure the right people in the NHS know this.”

The research comes after the recent re-analysis of the Pybis et al (2017) paper, which looked at the effectiveness of counselling and CBT for people with depression in IAPT services, utilising data from the National Audit of Psychological Therapies. It found no clinically meaningful differences between CBT and Counselling for patients presenting with depression.

The re-analysis has also found equivalent outcomes for CBT and Counselling in terms of reliable improvement for severe depression. The current NICE guidelines for depression do not recommend counselling for patients presenting with severe depression.

NHS England says IAPT was one of the most ambitious programmes of its kind in the world and had helped hundreds of thousands of people overcome depression and anxiety.

The BBC research is available for you to view.

The re-analysis of the Pybis et al (2017) paper in BMC Psychiatry is authored by Professor Michael Barkham and Dr David Saxon from the University of Sheffield can be freely accessed on the BMC Psychiatry website.

The original paper was used as part of both of our consultation responses.