Mental health services falling behind rest of NHS – report

Mental health services in the UK are falling behind physical health services because of outdated commissioning services in the National Health Service, according to a new report.

The report published by Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceuticals unit, Janssen, found that healthcare providers are using outdated methods to shape services.

Focusing specifically on schizophrenia, one of the most serious mental health challenges facing society, the report found that outdated practices are hindering development of services.

The report, Current Trends in Schizophrenia Services – Opportunities to Improve Care, is sharply critical of block contracts, which provide a set payment for delivery of services over a certain period of time.

These result in problems such as delayed discharges, ward overcrowding, bed shortages, out-of-area placements and appointment delays.

The contracts also result in lack of personalisation of services and integration of care, where providers are often unaware about patients’ details and their care needs.

Disturbingly the system can “cherry pick” patients, avoiding those with more complex needs that might consume more budget and resources, according to the report launched to coincide with the IPPR think tank’s Mental Health: Parity of Esteem event held in London today.

The need to resolve these issues is urgent, according to the report, with 1,400 more people accessing mental health services every day compared with 2010.

An NHS Mental Health Dashboard monitors achievements in providing mental health services across the UK, the report noted, but with no transparency about how money is spent there is no way of linking it to outcomes.

This lack of accountability means there is little incentive for commissioners to change practice, according to the report.

Janssen's Jennifer Lee

Janssen’s Jennifer Lee

Jennifer Lee, director of health economics, market access, reimbursement and advocacy at Janssen, said: “The findings from this report highlight the extent of inequality of healthcare services between mental health and physical health. Improving the lives of patients, their families and carers is at the heart of what we do.

“We welcome the increased focus on mental health funding from the recent government announcement on the NHS 10-year plan, and this report shows how vital it is that the government delivers on these promises, in order to truly achieve greater parity of esteem in mental health and schizophrenia.”

Click here to read the report in full.

 

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