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England mental health referrals at 4.3 million high

The number of referrals for specialist NHS mental health care reached a record high in England by the end of 2021, an analysis suggests.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists says the pandemic has led to unprecedented demand and backlogs and services are struggling to keep up.

There were 4.3 million referrals, for conditions such as anxiety and depression, in 2021, NHS Digital says. Just under a quarter - 1.025 million - were for children or adolescents.

The college said the NHS had delivered 1.8 million mental health consultations in December 2021, but an estimated 1.4 million people were still waiting for treatment.

And hundreds of adults were being sent far from home for treatment because of a lack of beds in their area.

President Dr Adrian James said: "As the pressure on services continues to ratchet up, the silence from government continues to be of grave concern for the college, the wider mental health workforce and, most importantly, our patients.

"The warning of the long tail of mental ill health caused by the pandemic has not been heeded.

"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.

"Staff are working flat out to give their patients the support they need but the lack of resources and lack of staff mean it's becoming an impossible situation to manage...

"...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."

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Source: BBC News, 15 March 2022


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