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Evidence has shown that the first treatments for mental health disorders to be given a mandatory timescale of access is drastically improving outcomes for patients.

Young man looking at sunrise

Professor Belinda Lennox, from the Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, who led a study into early intervention in psychosis services (EIP) published in the British Medical Journal Open, found that with new targets set for ‘access and waiting times’ each person treated in an early intervention service is “twice as likely to become employed and 50% more likely to go into stable housing, compared to people with early psychosis who are treated in other services.”

Professor Lennox, who is the Clinical Lead for the Early Intervention in Mental Health Network for Oxford AHSN and a consultant psychiatrist within Early Intervention Services at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “We can demonstrate that we are helping people with serious mental illness recover, get back to work or education, and get on with their lives.”

 

Early Intervention Services are recommended in the NHS because of evidence gathered and analysed in a research setting that shows that these services improve outcomes for patients and save money. What we have shown is that these services also have the same impact when they are rolled out into the real world setting of the NHS.”
Professor Belinda Lennox

Targets set in new ‘access and waiting times’ were introduced on 1 April 2016 for Early Intervention in Psychosis, and are the first of their kind in mental health services. The mandatory timescale now means that everyone across England with a first episode of psychosis, regardless of age or location, should be treated within an early intervention service within two weeks of being referred.

This pioneering step aims to ensure timely access to evidence-based treatments for those experiencing symptoms of mental health disorders. It places serious mental illness on a par with other serious medical conditions.

“People in early intervention services spend less time in hospital, which is good news for them, and also saves the NHS money,” says Professor Lennox.

The study indeed reveals dramatic savings for the NHS and society as a whole. It shows that early intervention in psychosis will save the NHS £33.5 million a year, based on a saving of £4031 per person each year. And a statistical analysis exploring the impact of providing these services across England to all adults experiencing the first episode of psychosis found an estimated £63.3 million savings in cost to society, as people are more likely to become employed and live in mainstream rather than supported housing.

Early intervention services for this condition are based in the community rather than hospitals: the multidisciplinary team which offers this service reaches out to young people who might be having a first episode of psychosis. The team works intensively with those affected, offering them and their family evidence based therapy and support, and meeting them as often as needed to avert crises which might otherwise have led to hospital admissions.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in the Applied Health Research and Care Oxford at the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, and the Oxford Academic Health Science Network (AHSN). It studied the region covered by the AHSN, which includes Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire and Oxfordshire.

 

Media coverage:

Oxford Mail: Early mental health intervention could save 63 million a year, 28/10/16