Northern Ireland-based company working with Greater Manchester Health Trust to tackle UK-wide NHS waiting list crisis in boost to local employment
Pneuma Healthcare, a spin-out of Ulster University, is tackling NHS waiting lists for mental health services, while providing employment opportunities for local graduates.
The company has been working with the Greater Manchester Health Trust, one of the largest in the UK, to tackle long waiting lists for those seeking support for common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
By offering shorter appointments either via telephone or video-conferencing, known as ‘low-intensity cognitive behavioural therapy’, Pneuma Healthcare ensures more people can be seen with a shorter space of time – helping to reduce waiting times. This support is also more accessible for people with a range of disabilities, caring and employment responsibilities, or those living in remote locations.
The technology-first approach means Pneuma’s NI-based staff can effectively and efficiently treat patients anywhere in the world. While the majority of the patients they are currently treating are based in Britain, the company is working with local health trusts to explore embedding Pneuma services in NI.
Pneuma Healthcare was founded by Ulster University’s Dr Colin Gorman earlier this year, in response to research carried out by colleague Dr Orla McDevitt-Petrovic.
The study had found a reliable improvement was achieved by almost 80% of clients, and a full recovery of more than half (52.1%) when receiving support through shorter, lower-intensity sessions.
With the qualitative outcomes of the research showing this approach to be clinically effective, Pneuma Healthcare was set up to address a known gap in service provision and support timely access to vital support.
CEO of Pneuma Healthcare and lecturer in clinical psychology at Ulster University, Dr Colin Gorman, said: “At Pneuma Healthcare, we are breathing life back into mental health services and helping to reduce the time it takes for people to get the help they need when it comes
to mental healthcare. Not having access to the right support can have severe impacts on people’s lives – particularly within those first six weeks, and can lead to people feeling like they have no other option but to drop out of work or education, or even worse sometimes, as a result. The value of early intervention is that it stops this deterioration and helps people get back to normal life.
“We know this is further compounded at this time of year and Christmas can be a difficult period for people when financial worries bubble to the surface and feelings of loneliness become rife. With NHS mental health services already under mounting pressure, and waiting lists continuing to grow, Pneuma Healthcare is plugging that gap by increasing the accessibility of mental health support through our provision of highly-skilled psychological wellbeing practitioners based here in NI.”
Based across Ulster University's Belfast and Londonderry campuses, Pneuma Healthcare is already boosting the NI economy as it employs local psychology graduates. The company currently employs 10 people and will enjoy further growth in January with two more staff joining as it works to keep skilled graduates in NI.