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10.04.14

Early intervention could save NHS millions in mental health costs

Investing early in mental health ‘detection’ services, which help people get access to treatment as quickly as possible, could save the NHS over £50m every year. 

This is according to a new report published by the London School of Economics (LSE) and charity Rethink Mental Illness, which has found that investing in quality care and support for people with schizophrenia and psychosis, results in huge savings in the long-term. 

It shows how investing in proven services such as Early Intervention, can generate significant cost-savings for the NHS because it reduces the need for hospital beds. In fact, the analysis found that £15 is saved for every £1 spent on Early Intervention. 

The report also highlights the fact that too great a proportion (54%) of the current psychosis budget is being spent on inpatient care, rather than on community services which help prevent people becoming seriously unwell in the first place. 

Professor Martin Knapp, report author and director of the personal social services research unit at the LSE, said: “Much needs to be done to improve the lives of people with schizophrenia and psychosis. At the same time – as our report shows – there is also much that can be done to improve NHS efficiency, and even for some interventions to generate savings.” 

Other findings from the report reveal that over £14m could be saved every year if Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment teams had the capacity to support just 50% of people at risk of needing hospital admission for mental illness. In some areas, they are currently only in touch with about 5% of this group. 

Additionally, the analysis found that the health and social care system saves £989 for every patient who receives Cogitative Behavioural Therapy (CBT) due to reduced hospital admissions. 

Even the care and support minister Norman Lamb supports the idea of Early Intervention. He said: “We know that early access to treatment in the community is often the best option for people with psychosis and schizophrenia. Not only do they benefit from being in familiar surroundings among loved ones but they are less likely to need costly hospital stays. 

“We need to see a shift of resources to this sort of preventative care and I am very pleased to be working with Rethink Mental Illness and the LSE on this.” 

Victoria Bleazard, associate director of campaigns and policy for Rethink Mental Illness, added that mental health is chronically underfunded. She stated that it accounts for 23% of the disease burden in England, but gets just 13% of the budget. On top of this, NHS spending has been essentially frozen in real terms until around 2020 and NHS England recently decided to cut mental health funding, despite the government’s commitment to equality between mental and physical health. 

Bleazard said: “Not only do we want to see mental health getting a fairer share of the budget, but we also need to make sure that the money that is available, is spent as efficiently as possible. 

“In this climate, it makes no sense to cut mental health services which generate cost-savings and save lives. Short-term cuts only store up bigger costs for the future.” 

The findings will be presented to Ministers and NHS leaders from across England today at the country’s first ever National Psychosis Summit, to be held in London. The aim of the summit is to bring NHS leaders together to identify problems in the system which are preventing investment in quality services for people with schizophrenia and psychosis, and for them to work together to find solutions. 

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

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