Long waiting times for NHS England’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies service are “unacceptable”.

The BBC has reported the service sees nine out of 10 patients within the target time of six weeks.

However, half of patients waited over 28 days, and one in six longer than 90 days, between their first and second sessions in the past year.

Their first appointment is often only an assessment – and so the second appointment is where treatment actually starts.

Some of these patients have told the BBC about their experience of waiting for treatment and being ‘left in limbo’.


Our Head of Policy Suky Kaur said: “It’s unacceptable that people are being left on long waiting lists.

“We’ve campaigned heavily for the appropriate provision and access to counselling for many years, we acknowledge there are pressures on the system, which poses difficulties to getting people the ‘right’ help when they need it.

“We’d urge any new Government not to cut corners when trying to eliminate waiting lists.”

We’re calling on the next Government to increase access to a choice of counselling and psychotherapy, and ensure everyone begins therapy within 28 days of referral.

It’s not good enough that currently people in need are subject to a postcode lottery of service provision, with many unable to access the choice of therapies they need or deserve, or without lengthy waiting .

Flaws and concerns

Suky added: “We know that while IAPT has increased access to therapy in the past 11 years, there are flaws and concerns that need to be addressed.

“Through its long term plan, the NHS is working towards increasing the number of counsellors and psychotherapists it employs, so it can improve access to therapy.

“We’re actively working with the Department of Health, NHS England and Health Education to ensure this translates into paid employment opportunities for our members, improved choice of therapies and better access and outcomes for the members of the public who rely on this service to help them."

If you're looking for a counsellor or psychotherapist for yourself or a member of your family, you can find one of our registered members through our Directory.