Early intervention on psychosis would save millions says charity report

Rethink Mental Illness report says more than £50m a year could be saved in next five years by spending more on early help now

The NHS could save millions if more early intervention services for people with schizophrenia and psychosis were available, according to a London School of Economics report for Rethink Mental Illness.

The charity’s Investing in Recovery report says services such as family therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy can reduce hospital admissions, thereby saving money that is currently spent on NHS beds.

It estimates that by developing early detection and intervention services, the government could save more than £50m a year over the next two to five years.

Over the course of a decade the savings could amount to £15 for every pound spent on early intervention support, it adds.

It notes that a 2007 National Audit Office report estimated that £14.3m a year could be saved if crisis resolution and home treatment teams could support half of those at risk of entering hospital due to mental illness.

Currently, these teams only reach only 5% of those at risk.

The report also says that personal budgets for people with mental health issues deliver better outcomes and value-for-money than standard care arrangements and called for individuals who want more control over their care to “receive appropriate encouragement and support”.

“The earlier we can detect and treat schizophrenia and psychosis, the better the chances are of recovery for the individual and the cheaper it is for the system in the long term,” said Victoria Bleazard, associate director of campaigns and policy for Rethink Mental Illness.

“We’ve seen this shift in other areas of medicine such as cancer treatment where swift, early treatment is a priority. We need to see the same change in emphasis for people with schizophrenia and psychosis.”

The report, which was paid for by the Department for Health, says that 54% of the NHS’s £2bn budget for services for people with psychosis is spent on inpatient care.

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