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Northern Ireland health trusts fail to meet mental health waiting time targets

Published 15/11/2016

More staff and funding is needed to help those suffering with mental health problems.
More staff and funding is needed to help those suffering with mental health problems.

Not one of Northern Ireland's five health trusts met waiting time targets for people suffering mental health problems, it has been reported.

Figures obtained by the BBC show there has been a steady rise in the numbers waiting for what are known as psychological therapies over the past five years.

The Health and Social Care Board said there was a "high risk" of continuing breaches of the 13-week target unless their was an injection of cash and some 160 more staff.

Currently around 498 staff are employed in this area and there is a shortfall in funding of around £12million, compared to other parts of the UK.

In a statement to the BBC, the board said it "acknowledged and apologised" for the "unacceptable waiting times for psychological therapies".

It said the rise in waiting times was due to "increased awareness of the important role that psychological therapies play in enabling mental health recovery" and also reflected "a "legacy of unmet need".

The board also said while it had tried up keep up with demand, current capacity was "unable to keep pace with need" and within this context it estimated "an additional £17m would be needed" across primary care, Children's Adult Health Care and Mental Health Services.

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