[A version of this item features in Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust), Volume 3 Issue 4, November 2012].
Liaison psychiatry can contribute to the Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) challenge of improving health outcomes while reducing health care costs. The Centre for Mental Health’s “Liaison psychiatry in the modern NHS” report indicates that all NHS hospitals should have a liaison psychiatry service since this could save the typical general hospital £5 million each year by reducing the number of admissions and the length of stay (LOS), particularly among older inpatients. The report summarises five case studies of established liaison psychiatry services in England, and reviews of published research.
Sean Duggan, Chief Executive of Centre for Mental Health, said:
“Liaison psychiatry is still seen in some quarters as an optional extra in the NHS. This needs to change. Tackling the artificial divide between mental and physical health will help people to recover more quickly and save the NHS money. To do this we need a dedicated liaison psychiatry service in every hospital.”
The prevalence of mental illness is particularly high in hospital settings. Roughly half of all inpatients suffer from a mental health condition such as depression, dementia or delirium. Co-morbid mental health problems, when undiagnosed and left untreated, often lead to poor health outcomes, with increased rates of mortality and morbidity. Mental health co-morbidities increase the costs of physical health care for the NHS, adding an estimated £13.5 billion a year.
It is proposed that further savings and improved health outcomes could be achieved if liaison psychiatry services were extended to work in the community, with a proactive approach to crisis-prevention.
Parsonage, M. Fossey, M. [and] Tutty, C. (2012). Liaison psychiatry in the modern NHS. London: Centre for Mental Health, November 2012.