Improving integration of care for patients with Alcohol Use Disorders and co-morbid Mental Health Diagnosis

Funding has been secured for a 12-month pilot project which will help people across Cheshire and Merseyside with Alcohol Use Disorders (AUD) and mental health conditions.

The project awarded £200,000 from NHS England will help with early identification of depression, anxiety and psychosis in people with AUD, greater recognition and referral for treatment of mental health conditions together with improved clinical outcomes for AUD and mental health conditions.

Training will be delivered to improve awareness and use of screening tools for identification of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder for alcohol specialist nurses.

The project will help to reduce hospital admissions, unscheduled attendance and ambulance call-outs as well as increase the referral rates from admission into hospital.

Dr Lynn Owens, Nurse Consultant and Strategic Lead at the Royal Liverpool Hospital Alcohol Care Team said: “I am delighted that our bid to NHS England has been successful. People with Alcohol Use Disorders have a higher risk of developing common mental health problems like depression and anxiety. They are more likely and more often to encounter alcohol specialist teams and GPs, rather than mainstream mental health services.

“In addition, they are less likely to receive treatment for their mental health disorders, for many reasons, including poor identification of these conditions. Therefore, early identification, appropriate referral, and support to take up mental health treatment will have a significant impact on mental health and alcohol addiction outcomes.

“Utilising the latest Public Health England data, we know that the need across Cheshire and Merseyside is significant. In 2018/19, Liverpool had the highest admission episodes for mental and behavioural disorders due to alcohol on all ‘narrow’ measures, with these figures being more than three times the England average and two times the North West average.”

The pilot will firstly focus on services linked to Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, including the liaison mental health and Improving Access to Psychological Therapies services provided by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust.

It is intended to improve integration between the services and facilitate improved access to mental health services at discharge from the acute hospital, or for patients already in community care.

As the pilot progresses, learning will be shared with Alcohol Care Team’s across Cheshire and Merseyside.