Report Reveals Outdated Commissioning Contracts are Failing UK Mental Health Services

A recent report, released by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, uncovers that outdated contracts of mental health commissioning are failing cognitive health services in the UK.

UK mental health services are falling behind its physical health services as the healthcare providers are relying on outdated commissioning process, according to the report. It also revealed the challenges encountered by pressurized mental health units in the UK, with a particular focus on schizophrenia.

Mental health holds for 28 percent the demand on the National Health Service (NHS), but its total CCG budget is only 13 percent. The report has been published to correspond with the Mental Health: Parity of Esteem, an event by IPPR think tank.

Schizophrenia–a mental disorder that affects an individual’s ability to think, feel, and behave clearly–represents the second highest number of total admitted bed days for patient care, in comparison with other health diagnosis including both mental and physical. In 2016-17, the disorder reported 2.5 million bed days approximately.

Schizophrenia is considered among the most complex mental health disorder which is challenging to manage and brings a huge burden to the NHS. In 2012-13, schizophrenia along with psychosis cost the NHS an amount of £2 billion which is expected to increase with growing number of patients. Each year, people with the disorder have an average of 36.4 contacts with healthcare providers.

Analysis in the report indicated that mental health is continuously falling behind physical health, mostly due to how these services are funded and organized. Although new commissioning methods used in physical health have been introduced to enhance innovation and integration of care, findings revealed that most mental healthcare professionals are still relying on outdated commissioning practices.

These practices include block contracts, providing a set payment of service delivery over a time period. Report findings show that use of block contracts could lead to: shortage of beds, ward overcrowding, delayed appointments as well as discharges, lack of personalization and integration of care, and cherry picking patients.

The need to settle these issues has never been given much importance. Compared to 2010, about 1400 more people are accessing mental health services every day. Although UK’s NHS Mental Health Dashboard manages achievement in providing services for mental health, there is no transparency about where the money is spent or whether it is truly leading to better outcomes. Poor accountability suggests that there is less incentive for commissioners to modify the practices.

According to the report, if significant modifications are not brought to improve accountability within the commissioning system, there will be little or no development in efficient services for people suffering from schizophrenia and other mental disorders.

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