About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides an update on how long people waited to start treatment with psychological therapies provided by NHS Scotland, for the quarter ending March 2020.

NHS Boards, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic made changes to their service delivery in March 2020. More information can be found in the Data Quality document.

Main points

  • For the quarter ending March 2020:

    • 18,268 people started treatment with psychological therapies in 14 NHS Territorial Boards, and NHS 24. This is a 6.5% increase from 17,160 for the previous quarter and a 1.8% increase from 17,951 for the quarter ending March 2019. Half of the people started their treatment within 5 weeks.
    • Nearly eight out of ten (77.6%) people started their treatment within 18 weeks, compared to 79.0% for the previous quarter, and 77.4% for the quarter ending March 2019. The Scottish Government standard states that 90% of people should start their treatment within 18 weeks of referral to psychological therapies.
Image caption Percentage of patients who started treatment for Psychological Therapies within 18 weeks of referral by quarter
This is Line Graph showing the percentage of people waiting less than 18 weeks in Scotland from the quarter ending March 2015 to March 2020. The chart shows adjusted waiting times figures.  The data shows:  Nearly eight out of ten patients (77.6%) started their treatment within 18 weeks for the quarter ending March 2020 which compares with 79.0% for the previous quarter.
  • 1,121 people aged 65+ started treatment with psychological therapies in this quarter. 87.2% started their treatment within 18 weeks, which is a decrease from 89.9% in the previous quarter.
  • As expected, there has been a drop in referrals during March 2020. In this quarter, 39,034 people were referred to psychological therapies in Scotland which is a 0.8% increase from the previous quarter (38,706) and a 10.1% decrease from the same quarter ending March 2019 (43,443).

Background

Waiting times information with psychological therapies is still being developed. NHS Boards are working with PHS and the Scottish Government to improve the consistency and completeness of the information. From December 2014, the Scottish Government set a standard for the NHS in Scotland to deliver a maximum wait of 18 weeks from a patient’s referral to treatment with psychological therapies. The standard should be delivered for at least 90% of patients.

Psychological therapies refer to a range of interventions, based on psychological concepts and theory, which are designed to help people understand and make changes to their thinking, behaviour and relationships in order to relieve distress and to improve functioning. The standard applies specifically to psychological therapies for treatment of a mental illness or disorder.

Please see the news and updates section of the Data and Intelligence website (external website) for more details.

Please see the full report for more information on the data quality. 

Further information

The latest report and data tables are available from the data files section at the top of this page. Background and further information is available online, on the former ISD webpages (external website). The Psychology Workforce Planning Project (external website) was initiated in 2001 and is a collaboration between NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and ISD.

For related topics, please see either the Waiting Times (external website) or MHAIST (external website) pages.

The next release of this publication will be September 2020.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.psychtherapies@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 13 June 2022
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