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Talking therapies: New statistics show an increase in referrals, numbers starting treatment and recovery rates during 2018-19

1.60m referrals were made to talking therapies for anxiety and depression in England during 2018-19 – up 11.4% from the previous year (1.44m in 2017-18).

1.60m referrals were made to talking therapies for anxiety and depression in England during 2018-19 – up 11.4% from the previous year (1.44m in 2017-18).   

1.09m referrals started treatment during 2018-19, which is an increase of 8.3% from 1.01m in 2017-182.

The latest NHS Digital figures show that 89.4% of referrals waited less than six weeks for their first treatment appointment (up from 89.1% in 2017-18) and 99.0% waited less than 18 weeks to enter treatment (up from 98.8% in 2017-18)3.

Recovery rates have increased gradually year-on-year since the dataset was established in 2012-134, according to figures published in Psychological Therapies: Annual Report on the use of IAPT services5, England, 2018-19.

52.1% of courses of treatment ended in a patient’s recovery in 2018-19 (up from 50.8% in 2017-18) and 67.4% showed reliable improvement (up from 66.4% in 2017-18).

This is the second year that the recovery rate has passed 50%. The Government target is that 50% of eligible referrals to IAPT services should move to recovery6.

The report also shows that people completing a course of treatment received on average 6.9 sessions. Those referrals that moved to recovery attended 7.6 sessions on average.

People seek treatment through IAPT services for depression and a range of anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders, panic disorders and social phobias.

The treatments can include therapies such as counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and peer support.

An accompanying interactive data report allows users to see outcomes for NHS Commissioning Regions, Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships, NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups and IAPT service providers.


Read the full report:

Psychological Therapies: Annual Report on the use of IAPT services, England, 2018-19



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Notes to editors


  1. NHS Digital is the national information and technology provider for the health and care system.  Our team of information analysis, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals and citizens depend. During the 2018/19 financial year, NHS Digital published 287 statistical reports. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better. The Health and Social Care Information Centre is a non-departmental body created by statute, also known as NHS Digital. We provide ‘Information and Technology for better health and care’. Find out more about our role and remit at
  2. Please note that the number of referrals and the number of referrals starting treatment reflect activity in the year and are not based on the same group of referrals. For full details about the measures presented here, see the ‘Guide to IAPT Data and Publications’, available from
  3. One of the stated targets of the IAPT programme is that for new referrals, 75% enter treatment within 6 weeks and 95% within 18 weeks. These are based on the waiting time between the referral date and the first attended treatment appointment, for referrals finishing a course of treatment in the year.
  4. The IAPT dataset became a nationally mandated data set in April 2012; earlier comparable data are not available.
  5. Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) is an NHS programme in England that offers interventions approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for treating people with depression and anxiety.
  6. In IAPT outcome measures, such as recovery, are calculated for referrals that finish a course of treatment within the reporting period having started as clinical cases of anxiety or depression. The term "recovery" has a specific meaning in the context of IAPT services. A referral has moved to recovery if they were defined as a clinical case at the start of their treatment and not as a clinical case at the end of treatment. For further information see the ‘Guide to IAPT data and publications’ at
  7. Numbers are rounded to the nearest 10,000. Percentages have been calculated using unrounded figures.
  8. All historical IAPT publications can be found at
  9. For media enquiries please contact or 0300 303 3888.

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Last edited: 11 July 2019 3:40 pm