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An observational study on IAPT waiting times before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic using descriptive time-series data

Patrick Larsson (Health in Mind (Mid Essex), Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, Hatfield, UK)
Russell Lloyd (Health in Mind (Mid Essex), Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, Hatfield, UK)
Emily Taberham (Health in Mind (Mid Essex), Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, Hatfield, UK)
Maggie Rosairo (Health in Mind (Mid Essex), Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, Hatfield, UK)

Mental Health Review Journal

ISSN: 1361-9322

Article publication date: 27 July 2022

Issue publication date: 9 November 2022

521

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore waiting times in improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) services before and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper aims to help develop a better understanding of waiting times in IAPT so that interventions can be developed to address them.

Design/methodology/approach

IAPT national data reports was analysed to determine access and in-treatment waiting times before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Time-series data was used to examine referral patterns, waiting list size and waiting times between the period of November 2018 and January 2022. The data covers all regions in England where an IAPT service has been commissioned.

Findings

There was a dramatic drop in referrals to IAPT services when lockdown started. Waiting list size for all IAPT services in the country reduced, as did incomplete and completed waits. The reduction in waiting times was short-lived, and longer waits are returning.

Practical implications

This paper aims to contribute to the literature on IAPT waiting times both in relation to, and outside of, COVID-19. It is hoped that the conclusions will generate discussion about addressing long waits to treatment for psychological therapy and encourage further research.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, there is no published research examining the performance of IAPT waiting times to second appointment. The paper also contributes to an understanding of how IAPT waiting times are measured and explores challenges with the system itself. Finally, it offers an overview on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on waiting time performance nationally.

Keywords

Citation

Larsson, P., Lloyd, R., Taberham, E. and Rosairo, M. (2022), "An observational study on IAPT waiting times before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic using descriptive time-series data", Mental Health Review Journal, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 455-471. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHRJ-04-2022-0023

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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