Introduction Early intervention services (EIS) can significantly reduce the rate of relapse, risk of suicide and number of hospital admissions for people with first episode of psychosis (FEP). However, care pathways in FEP can be complex, thus extending the period before patients commence appropriate treatment. Recently in the UK, guidelines have set a limit of two-weeks before patients with a FEP receive treatment at EIS. Objectives We explored the impact of this new policy on referrals to an EIS in the area City and Hackney, London, which has one of the highest incidence of psychosis in the UK. Methods Referrals from 6 months of 2015 have been compared with the data from the same period of 2016, once the waiting standard had been implemented. Results We observed more than a two-fold increase in the monthly number of referrals (9.4 in 2015; 20 in 2016) and this wasn’t due to a rise of inappropriate referrals (2.23% in 2015; 1.53% in 2016). Moreover the number of referrals doubled further when, in addition, the City & Hackney EIS went from a 18–35-year-service to an “ageless” adult service. Conclusion The recent focus on FEP in the UK might have increased awareness and reduced stigma, leading to the increment in referrals. Also, shortening the waiting time made the service more accessible for those that would have gave up in front of a longer waiting list. Interestingly enough a peak in the number of referrals has been observed from September 2016 when another standard was implemented.
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