Health

Physical health of mentally ill people 'ignored'

A man looking out of the window Image copyright Newscast Online

People in England who have had mental health problems are five times as likely to be admitted to hospital as an emergency as those who have not, a study shows.

But the Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation think tanks found most admissions were for physical ailments.

Researchers said the findings suggested the NHS was too often treating mental health conditions in isolation.

Overall, just 20% of admissions were explicitly linked to mental health.

Instead, mental health patients were more likely to be admitted as an emergency for what are usually routine problems like hip replacements.

The think tanks looked at more than 100 million hospital records between 2009-10 and 2013-14 for people with mental health problems and those without.

'Essential care needs'

In the final year, for every 1,000 people with mental health problems there were 628 emergency admissions, compared with 129 among those without - five times the rate.

Visits to A&E units were also three times higher, with more than 1,300 attendances for every 1,000 patients with mental health problems.

The researchers said many of these could have been prevented with better care.

Report author Holly Dorning said: "It is striking that people with mental ill health use so much more emergency care than those without and that so much of this isn't directly related to their mental health needs.

"This raises serious questions about how well their other health concerns are being managed.

"It is clear that if we continue to treat mental health in isolation, we will miss essential care needs for these patients."

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