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Improving recovery rates: a case study

A ten percentage point increase in recovery rates* for people experiencing anxiety and depression has been achieved thanks to the work of the Oxford Academic Health Science Network Anxiety and Depression Clinical Network.


The Oxford AHSN is committed to improve by at least five percentage points the recovery rates for people experiencing anxiety and depression who are treated in the 14 clinical commissioning group areas in the Oxford AHSN region. This aim has been achieved and significantly exceeded. Recovery rates improved by ten percentage points (from 47% in 2014 to 57% in March 2016 – well above the national average of 45-48%). From January 2014-November 2015 the following gains were made over and above national rates:

  • an additional 3,199 patients recovered
  • an additional 1,631 were still in recovery two years on
  • 384 additional people returned to work
  • £755,494 saved for the NHS taking account of extra staff training costs.

What we did

Based on a review of patients who had not fully recovered, it was agreed that a new approach was needed to further improve outcomes for people experiencing anxiety and depression. This was based on a commitment to continuous performance improvement with patients routinely receiving the best treatment at first point of contact. The Oxford Academic Health Science Network Anxiety and Depression Clinical Network focused on collecting comprehensive data, accessing high quality research, identifying patient outcome themes and putting the right staff training in place. They built on links with existing networks, particularly IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) services which see 19,000 patients a year in the Oxford AHSN region. A critical element was regular workshops to share innovation, best practice and latest research – as well as making time for hands-on training.

The success in improving recovery rates has led to a number of national plaudits from the NHS and government. David Clark, the Oxford Academic Health Science Network Anxiety and Depression Clinical Network Clinical Lead (Adults), is leading a national mental health information network and the services within the Oxford AHSN region are running workshops across the country at the request of NHS England to share the secrets of their success.

One former patient said: “It was a fantastic service that helped me think differently long-term. I am a different person after having this, I am so glad that my doctor referred me. I would like to thank the service so much for changing my mindset in positive way.”

Having seen the service at first hand, the then Health Minister Norman Lamb said: “I wanted to congratulate you on the recovery rate you are now achieving following what strikes me as a quite extraordinary turnaround. I hope that others can learn from the immensely impressive transformation you have effected.”

The approach is ongoing with a commitment to achieve further improvements in recovery rates.

Further information:

  • Ineke Wolsey, Anxiety and Depression (IAPT) Network Manager

  • Professor David Clark, National Clinical Advisor for IAPT and Clinical Lead for the Oxford AHSN Anxiety and Depression Clinical Network

tel. 01865 618604

* Recovery rate = by the end of treatment the patient has dropped below the clinical/non-clinical threshold for both anxiety and depression.