Combined mental and physical healthcare can benefit people with chronic conditions

NHS England ‘whole person’ project cut hospital admissions by 75%

Services that integrate mental and physical healthcare can cut hospital admissions for patients with long-term physical health conditions by 75%, according to results from a pilot scheme.

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More than 16 million people in England are diagnosed with a long-term physical health condition, and one in three of these individuals will experience a mental health problem, according to NHS England.

In a project run by NHS England, people with chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart problems were given a ‘whole-person assessment’, which focused on any mental as well as physical healthcare they might need to manage their condition.

Positive outcomes – and big savings

Almost 500 patients with either respiratory illness, diabetes or a cardiovascular condition took part in a pilot at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust. Following the whole-person assessments, the following positive outcomes were found among the group:

  • 75% reduction in hospital admissions
  • 73% reduction in demand for GP appointments
  • 61% reduction in their emergency department attendances

The clinical commissioning group for the pilot area estimated these outcomes produced NHS savings of almost £200,000 over the pilot period.

Influential pilot

Similar schemes are now being adopted elsewhere in England, and 3,000 mental health therapists are being placed in GP surgeries to offer ‘combined mind and body care’ to patients.      

NHS England national director for mental health Claire Murdoch said: ‘Effective NHS mental healthcare for people with long-term illness is a game-changer for our patients and good news for taxpayers. By integrating talking therapies with treatment for diabetes and heart conditions, NHS patients get care for mind and body at the same time.’

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