Staffing Levels To Blame For Bad Mental Health Services In Merton

Wimbledon GP disappointed to hear service is on "recovery plan" to get back on track

Staffing issues have been blamed for the poor performance of mental health services in Merton.

There is a backlog of about 700 people waiting for their second appointment in the IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) service.

At a meeting of Merton CCGs governing body on Wednesday (July 3) John Atherton, director of performance and improvement, revealed there has been poor performance since a change in provider.

When the IAPT service transferred to a new provider in April it inherited a waiting list of clients waiting for their second treatment.

There were more than 700 people on this list and a report states that while staffing levels remain low it is unlikely to decrease quickly.

South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust (SWLSTG) was commissioned by the CCG to provide mental health services known as  Merton Uplift.

Mr Atherton said: “IAPT with its new provider is not achieving its access target. Staffing and recruitment is affecting that.” He said that the focus is not on getting the service ‘back on track’.

But Wimbledon GP Tim Hodgson was disappointed to hear the news. He said: “We are now working with the third provider for IAPT in seven years so it is disappointing to hear it is on a recovery plan.

“Depression and anxiety is a huge burden which causes lots of days off work and family time lost.”

Mr Atherton replied that he thought the issue would get better in the coming months once more full time staff are employed, rather than relying on interim staff.

“I think the problem in the past couple of months has been one of recruitment to some degree and inheriting some of the issues in transition,” he added.

GP and Merton CCG clinical director for mental health, Andrew Otley,  said that while people wait for a face to face appointment they should be directed to online therapy services commissioned by the council.

For more information about mental health services available in Merton visit

By Tara O'Connor, Local Democracy Reporter

July 4, 2019