Systemic mental health failures costing NHS billions each year
By Liz Lockhart
Research published this week by the King’s Fund and the Centre for Mental Health suggests that mental health conditions go undetected where they co-exist with long-term physical health conditions. It also suggests that the NHS spends billions each year because of ‘systemic’ failure to deal promptly enough with mental health problems in people with conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and other long-term conditions.
By exacerbating physical illnesses, co-existing mental health problems increase the costs for the care of long-term conditions, the researchers found. On average, £1 in every £8 which is spent on long-term conditions is attributed to poor mental health. This equates to between £8-13bn of NHS spending annually.
The study also suggests that co-existing health problems can result in increased hospital stays and increased outpatient visits. The researchers feel that these problems can lead to less effective self-management as people with poor mental health who also have heart disease or other long-term disorders are less likely to tend to their physical health, take medication as intended and attend medical appointments.
Another worrying finding of this study is that depression increases mortality rates after a heart attack by 3.5 times.
The researchers say that there is a growing research evidence to suggest that more integrated approaches, with closer working between professionals responsible for patients’ mental and physical health, can improve outcomes and also reduce costs.
The King’s Fund is a charity that seeks to understand how the health system in England can be improved.