Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme

The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme is designed to support the NHS in delivering evidence-based psychological therapies for people with depression and anxiety disorders in England. 

How many people were referred to IAPT and how many referrals started treatment in each quarter?

Please note the number of treatments starting in each quarter is not a direct subset of the number of people referred in each quarter, as some may have been referred for treatment in a previous quarter.

The number of referrals to IAPT and the number of treatments have both increased over time. In 2014-15 Q3 there were 313,349 referrals to IAPT, this is over 100,000 more than when data collection started in 2011-12 Q1. The number of referrals starting treatment has increased by nearly 80,000 in the same time and was 202,051 in 2014-15 Q3.

What proportion of people with anxiety and depression is IAPT treating?

The IAPT programme set out with a few key objectives to be achieved by March 2015. These are:
- that at least 15% of adults who need a psychological therapy can access it, and
- that there is at least a 50% recovery rate for those who complete treatment through the IAPT programme.

For the first objective it is estimated that there are 6 million people in England who have a common mental health disorder. It was agreed that the IAPT programme could provide genuine benefit by treating 15% or 900,000 of these patients every year. This figure was agreed because some people would not seek treatment or would not be suitable for psychological therapy.

Since 2011-12, the proportion of IAPT referrals receiving treatment has increased every year. However, although we don't yet have full year data for 2014-15, it looks unlikely to meet the goal of 15% this year. Based on performance from Q1 to Q3 2014-15 only, this is 12.7%.

Has the number of people who finished a course of treatment increased and how successful was the treatment?

Successfully finishing a course of treatment is only one outcome for those referred to IAPT. Other outcomes include: declining or dropping out of treatment, being referred to another service, not being suitable for IAPT treatments or dying before they reach an outcome. The number of people successfully finishing a course of treatment has generally increased over time. In 2014-15 Q3 this was 117,813, over 42,000 more than 2011-12 Q1.

The proportion of finished treatments that showed reliable improvement, which means they achieved significant improvements in their symptoms but they did not achieve the technical definition of recovery (shown later) has increased slightly over time. Data on reliable recovery started collection in 2013-14 Q1, at this time it was 58.1%. By 2014-15 Q3 this had increased slightly to 60.4%. For all data points, more than half of finished treatment courses showed a reliable improvement in symptoms.

Did treatments help people move to recovery?

When patients begin treatment through the IAPT programme they are clinically assessed for scores of anxiety and depression; those who score highly are considered a clinical case. When reassessed at the end of treatment, people who no longer score as highly for anxiety and depression (so are no longer a clinical case), are considered recovered. The recovery rate is the proportion of people who start treatment with a high score, complete treatment having reduced their score below the clinical threshold. The recovery rate has increased slightly over time from 42.5% in 2011-12 Q1 to 44.3% in 2014-15 Q3. The objective recovery rate for IAPT to be achieved by March 2015 is 50%; this has not yet been met.

Beyond clinical recovery rates, the IAPT programme also supported 82,000 people in total to move off sickness benefits between 2011-12 Q1 and 2014-15 Q3 (data not shown), this number increased in each quarter and was 6,554 in 2014-15 Q3.


My concern is that pressure on staff to achieve ever increasing targets results in the clients not getting a great service when they do get it. The emphasis has become of processing people through like sausages. There is also fiddling of the figures going on as happens in any target driven service. Phone calls are made so boxes can be ticked to say a service has started when it hasn't in any meaningful way, for example.

Angie Pedley (not verified)
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As a service user I find it disappointing that IAPT = CBT. I've waited 3 years for dynamic interpersonal therapy and there's no sign of it coming anytime soon. The money that's been wasted on group CBT, individual CBT, online CBT, cognitive testing, trial medications must be colossal.

It's a bit like going into the doctors with a sore finger and being given an eye-patch - there are no finger plasters available but there is a big box of eye-patches. You get what's available, not what you need.

Anonymous (not verified)
(changed )

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