Mental Health

Psychology

Mandy Kloppers

Survey finds 44% of private psychologists nationwide are not taking on new patients

mental health

One person in four in England is experiencing a mental health problem each year, and demand for mental health services is rising across the UK in general. While the challenges this poses for the NHS are well documented, with patients facing long waits for treatment, less is known about the impact on the private sector.

The team at private healthcare information website myTribe was keen to assess the accessibility of private psychology services for patients experiencing depression and anxiety, which are the most common mental health issues. In January 2024, myTribe’s researchers surveyed 435 private psychologists across the UK to learn about availability, waiting times and the cost of seeing a private psychologist.

The findings show that:

  • More than two in five private psychologists are not taking on new patients because they’re fully booked (38%) or for other reasons (6%).
  • For an initial consultation with those who are taking on new patients, the average waiting time was just under three weeks.
  • The average cost of an initial consultation with a private psychologist for a patient with depression and anxiety was £125.
  • The most expensive initial consultation was £350 (London), with the least expensive being £45 (Middlesbrough).
  • Private psychologists were most costly in North West England, with initial consultations averaging £155.
  • The least expensive region was North East England, where initial consultations averaged £107

Regional variations in psychologists accepting new patients

The researchers at myTribe found significant regional differences in the availability of private psychologists.

Private psychologists in South West England were least likely to accept new patients, with 57% of those surveyed saying they were at capacity or citing a different reason, such as being close to retirement. South East England wasn’t much better, with 56% saying they couldn’t help, and the East Midlands was close behind, with 55% unable to offer an appointment.

The regions with the highest number of private psychologists offering appointments were North East England, with 68% taking on new patients, then Wales at 66%, and Scotland at 65%.

Private psychologist availability by region

Region  Accepting new patients
North East England 68%
Wales 66%
Scotland 65%
Yorkshire and the Humber 63%
London 61%
East of England 59%
West Midlands 56%
North West England 56%
Northern Ireland 50%
East Midlands 45%
South East England 44%
South West England 43%

Regional waiting times

The longest waiting times in the UK were, perhaps unsurprisingly, found in the same region that has the lowest number of psychologists offering initial consultations: South West England. Here, the average waiting time for an initial consultation was five and a half weeks. East Midlands also had lengthy waiting times at four and a half weeks on average.

Of all the regions surveyed, Wales came out top in terms of waiting times. Here, on average, you can expect to be seen in less than a week.

Private psychology waiting times by region

Region Wait in weeks
Wales Within 1 week
Yorkshire and the Humber Within 2 weeks
Scotland Within 3 weeks
London Within 3 weeks
East of England Within 3 weeks
West Midlands Within 3 weeks
North West England Within 3 weeks
South East England Within 3 weeks
North East England Within 3 weeks
Northern Ireland Within 4 weeks
East Midlands Within 5 weeks
South West England Within 6 weeks

 

Cost of private psychology services

myTribe’s survey found the cost of initial and follow-up consultations with a private psychologist varies considerably, depending on where you live in the country.

The average initial consultation was quoted at £125, with a follow-up appointment averaging £116.

North West England was the most expensive region in the UK for an initial consultation with a private psychologist, with an average cost of £155. London was the next most expensive region, with an average cost of £154, and then the East Midlands, where it typically costs £153 to see a psychologist for the first time.

When it came to charges for follow-up appointments, London topped the list, with on-going sessions averaging £140. The East Midlands was the second most expensive region for on-going treatment, with follow-ups averaging £139; North West England came third, with a cost of £130.

North East England was the most affordable place for an initial consultation with a private psychologist, with appointments typically costing £107. Yorkshire and the Humber and the East of England were also very reasonable, with both regions charging new patients £108.

The East of England was the least expensive place to see a private psychologist on an on-going basis, with returning appointments costing £99. Northern Ireland, Scotland, South East England, South West England, Wales and Yorkshire and the Humber, all offered follow-up appointments for between £105 and £106.

Most accessible regions for private psychology

Based on the number of psychologists accepting patients, average waiting times and cost of consultations, the regions of the UK with the most accessible private psychology services were:

  1. Yorkshire and the Humber
  2. North East England
  3. Wales
  4. Scotland
  5. East of England

Least accessible regions for private psychology

  1. South West England
  2. East Midlands
  3. London
  4. South East England
  5. North West England

Chris Steele, Editor of myTribe explains: 

“The fact that so many private psychologists aren’t accepting new patients obviously makes it even harder for some people, especially in the worst-affected regions, to access the care they need quickly, which is worrying.

However, many of the psychologists we surveyed offer remote appointments. So if you’re struggling to find a local private psychologist with availability or in your price range, it’s always worth looking further afield for an online or telephone consultation.

Also, we found that towns or cities relatively close to each other can have vastly different availability and pricing. If you’d prefer face-to-face help, and are able to travel a bit, it’s definitely worth shopping around within your wider area.”Help From A Psychotherapist

About the survey’s research methodology

  • myTribe contacted 435 private psychologists in 33 towns and cities around the UK in January 2024.
  • Each psychologist was asked about the cost and availability of an initial consultation for a patient suffering from anxiety and depression. They were also asked about the cost of a follow-up appointment.
  • All psychologists were registered with the British Psychological Society.

About myTribe

Launced in 2019 by Chris Steele, myTribe is a healthcare consumer information website that offers guidance to anyone thinking about opting for private healthcare in the UK. It has grown in prominence in recent years in response to the immense challenges facing the NHS. As well as offering articles and guides on a wealth of topics, myTribe regularly commissions independent research into key medical and health-related issues – all of which help its readers to make informed healthcare choices.

 

 

 

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