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Mental health services "need reorganisation"

A new report says there must be "radical" changes in how mental health services are organised in the UK.

One of the key points to emerge from the King's Fund report, carried out alongside the Centre for Mental Health, was the need for less use of hospital beds.

The study said an overhaul of the system is needed to improve patient care and to reduce costs to the NHS.

According to the report, patients could be looked after and cared for in the community rather than in hospitals or inpatient mental health units.

Changing these patterns of care could save up to £200m a year, while cutting half the numbers of people sent to units outside their local area would save £65m a year.

The report highlighted issues around caring for those patients, sometimes referred to as "bed-blockers", including those with dementia.

Cutting the amount of time it takes to discharge dementia patients from hospital could save more than £300m a year.

Work should also be carried out to reduce unnecessary referrals to secure mental health units while also improving the way patients are discharged, the report said.

The report comes ahead of a government strategy on mental health due to be published shortly.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

King's Fund

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"I totally agree with the Kings Fund findings. I also agree with Adam Ridealgh's comments regarding assertive outreach teams and crisis resolution. There don't appear to be enough trained mental health workers available to cover the workload adequately in Hackney or Islington. Our severe patients aren't allocated a nurse which results in poor continuity of care and poor care planning. As a practice nurse I am often the one who
calls the CMHT with concerns re my patients. Some of my patients should be having regular visits from the CMHT. Particular thought should be going into how to manage patients with severe mental illness and illegal drug usage or alcohol. I could rant all night about this one. The situation has
been poor for last 15 years. I haven't seen any improvement" - L Robinson, London

"Agree wholeheartedly that shorter and fewer hospital admissions for patients with mental illnesses could benefit patients and save money. In adult acute settings this could be achieved by closer collaboration between and strengthening of specialist teams, such as assertive outreach and crisis resolution. These services are uniquely placed and have the
skills to adapt to changing practices, saving resources in both acute inpatient and CMHT services" - Adam Ridealgh, Witham, Essex

"I have given a number of presentations to NiP event audiences throughout this year and addressed a range of primary care themes and how we can ensure that PC nurses have a 'toolkit' of skills inc assessment knowledge and a clear route to getting back up support from community experts
recognising the lack of time to give to many MH pts seen in primary care. We do need a more inclusive collective approach to safely avoiding hospital admission particularly for older people with MH problems especially dementia and there is a lot of mileage in some concerted work on repatriating out of area placements. Further exploration is needed but the issue is how do we save lives/improve quality of life and save money at the same time. I have a number of thoughts on this but in the
current climate a lot of people are feeling nervous about job security, worried about reputation, and tired of the massive concentration on performance targets and lengthy process and meetings that rarely impact on patient care" - George Coxon