Forging stronger partnerships between mental health and substance misuse services could improve services and cut costs, the NHS Confederation has claimed.

In a report published today, the confederation says a third of patients who use mental health services, half of those who use substance misuse services and 70 per cent of prisoners have a dual diagnosis of both a mental health condition and a drug or alcohol problem.

The report says people who have developed problems with alcohol or drugs because of a pre-existing mental health condition, or have had a mental health condition caused by substance misuse, use services more and cost the NHS more.

A study of services in south London cited in the report showed more patients with dual diagnosis used community psychiatric nurses, inpatient care and emergency clinics.

This cost the NHS £1,362 more per patient in “core” psychiatric service costs, and £1,360 in non-accommodation service costs compared with patients without dual diagnosis.

Mental Health Network director Steve Shrubb said: “There needs to be training for staff in drug, alcohol and outreach teams so they can deal with dual diagnosis. There also needs to be effective commissioning and joint working between mental health trusts, primary care trusts and local authorities.”

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