Mental health patients waiting for help in South Tyneside

More people with mental health problems are having to wait for help
More people with mental health problems are having to wait for help

Some patients in South Tyneside are waiting four months or more for mental health or disability service appointments, a report has revealed.

Figures from the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust for 2017/18 reveals the trust is failing to meet waiting time targets.

No patient should wait longer than 18 weeks for contact with a community service.

As of March 31, 56 per cent of South Tyneside patients accessing the Children and Young Person Service (CYPS) are waiting longer than this.

The data is framed against a backdrop of increased demand - with South Tyneside’s patient list jumping from 181 to 194 since December.

But the report states several services in South Tyneside have “deteriorated” including the borough’s Adult Diagnosis Service for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The figures reveal 58% of patients had been waiting more than 18 weeks in March this year compared to 50 per cent in March 2017.

South Tyneside’s Adult Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis Service has also experienced patient delays.

In March this year, 63 per cent of patients had been waiting more than 18 weeks, compared to 47 per cent the previous year.

As of March 31, 285 patients across the Trust area waited 18 weeks for first contact with an adult or older people’s community service – a 20 per cent rise on the same time last year.

The trust’s deputy director of commissioning and quality assurance, Anna Foster, told a meeting of Newcastle City Council’s health scrutiny committee: “Because of the resources we have available and the demand, we have struggled to keep up with the demand that is there for our services.”

Ms Foster added that frontline staff need to be freed up from doing unnecessary duties, like paperwork and attending meetings, so they can spend more time with patients, but that it was “not as easy as saying that we need more money”.