Recovery rates top NW table

Dr Tim Dalton
Dr Tim Dalton

WIGAN has the highest recovery rate for people suffering from mental illness in the North West, new figures reveal.

Data from the Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (WBCCG) and the 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust shows that more than half of patients put on to the Partnership’s psychological therapy programmes are recovering.

The 5 Boroughs is also one of just three Trusts which have been given a green status on the Red Amber Green (RAG) scale by the Strategic Health Authority (SHA), which covers 24 Trusts.

The positive figures come just days after a report compiled by the Mental Health Policy Group from the London School of Economics (LSE) heavily criticised the provision of mental health care, saying psychological illnesses were not being treated as seriously as physical conditions, warning of “health inequalities” and saying more needed to be done to train GPs to diagnose and refer cases.

WBCCG has pledged to make mental illness one of its priority commissioning interests over the next two and a half years.

In addition, it has promised to develop the Improved Access to Psychological Treatment (IAPT) programme, the implementation of which is a key priority in the LSE report, while ensuring its current services are already compliant with IAPT.

The percentage of people referred to the 5 Boroughs getting on to the IAPT programme is also above the national expectation, with 61 per cent entering the service. However, this is some way behind the SHA’s highest figure of more than 80 per cent achieved by Blackburn with Darwen.

Wigan GPs also came out well, with the borough’s doctors above the England average for identifying and treating people with a serious mental illness.

Dr Tim Dalton, chair of WBCCG, said: “Treatment for mental illness is not the sole remit of the 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and mental health expenditure is made on a number of providers that include primary care, community services and third sector providers.

“The LSE report focuses on the provision of psychological therapies and its beneficial impact on people with a long-term condition (LTC). WBCCG has made a commitment to develop IAPT services in the coming years to build on the success that has already been achieved. It should be noted that a higher spend per head does not necessarily equate to the quality of the services provided.

“WBCCG has one of the lowest spend and usage in the North West on low and medium secure services which suggests that investment in local services has a beneficial effect on preventing peoples illness deteriorating to an extent that secure provision is required.”

The LSE authors also want the implementation of IAPT to show up in the NHS Outcomes Framework.

The Partnership are also embarking on a joint project with Manchester University to develop a collaborative model for looking after patients with long-term conditions.

NHS Ashton, Leigh and Wigan also provide a number of services which do not count towards national data, including children’s bereavement and counselling services, anger management treatments, counselling for migrants who have been victims of human rights abuses, and computerised cognitive behavioural therapy.

It spent £53.2m on mental health in 2010/11, up from £41.6m in 2006/7. The latest figure is around nine per cent of the organisation’s whole budget, lower than both a comparative district and the average for the Strategic Health Authority.

Nationally mental health expenditure accounts for 13 per cent of the NHS budget.