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Mental and physical healthcare should be integrated

Reports suggests this improves quality and cuts costs

Jo Carlowe

Friday, 20 April 2012

The NHS can significantly improve patient care and save money by integrating mental and physical healthcare for people with long term health conditions such as diabetes and long term mental illness.

This is the conclusion of a new report from the NHS Confederation's Mental Health Network which details services around the country to show that through integrating care both quality and costs can be improved.

The report sets out existing examples of the significant gains that integrating care can have. These include a respiratory wellbeing clinic in Sutton and Merton in London which integrates cognitive therapy with health promotion for COPD. Trusts report substantial health gains, a reduction in depression and the clinic saves £5 for every £1 spent on it.

Another example is the integrating of mental health services into acute care at City Hospital in Birmingham which has helped improve the quality of care and saved £4 for every £1 invested in the service.

According to the report half of psychiatric patients also have physical health problems and long-term severe mental illness is associated with high levels of physical ill health.

At least £1 in every £8 spent on long term conditions is linked to poor mental health - £8-13 billion in total, it states.

Steve Shrubb director of the NHS Confederation's Mental Health Network said: "Patients do not define themselves by their illnesses and it is time the NHS came into line with them. If we do, this report sets out how that can be better for patients and save the service money.

"The case for making sure physical and mental health are integrated for long term conditions right across the NHS is becoming unarguable. The case studies show impressive increases in patient satisfaction and significant savings are up for grabs.”

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