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Combining physical and mental health care saves money

By Vivienne Russell | 19 April 2012

Better integration of mental and physical health care for people with long-term conditions could save the health service money, according to the NHS Confederation.

A report from the confederation’s Mental Health Network says that at least £1 in every £8 spent on long-term conditions, such as diabetes and angina, is linked to poor mental health.

Cases studies show that offering patients emotional and psychological support to manage their condition has saved money. For example, a respiratory wellbeing clinic in Sutton & Merton Primary Care Trust in London integrates cognitive therapy with health promotion to manage chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. Participating trusts have reported significant health gains, and reduction in depression and the clinic saves £5 for every £1 spent.

Steve Shrubb, director of the Mental Health Network, said: ‘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.

‘As the NHS grapples with new structures, a massive savings target and the economic outlook continues to look bleak, we have to do more to treat and support patients with a range of illnesses and health problems.’

Almost a third of people in England have one or more long-term health conditions, and of those, 30% are estimated to have a mental health problem as well. Half of psychiatric patients also have physical health problems and long-term mental illness is associated with high levels of physical ill health.

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