Biggest NHS cost of bipolar treatment is beds

Hospital stays for people with bipolar disorder cost taxpayers £207 million a year. According to research sponsored by AstraZeneca, the NHS spends just 7% (£25 million) of the total costs for bipolar disorder on medicines versus 60% on hospital admissions.

The research was led by Professor Allan Young, formerly of Newcastle University and currently of the University of British Columbia. He said of the research, “The main reason for hospitalisations in bipolar disorder is relapses suffered by patients in which they experience extreme mood changes. There is evidence to suggest that a range of available treatments for bipolar disorder are able to reduce the risk of patients experiencing such a relapse and thereby reduce the need for hospital stays. It is therefore possible that by optimising treatment and management strategies for Bipolar Disorder the overall cost to the NHS could be reduced.”

Professor Steve Bazire, Chief Pharmacist, Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Bipolar depression is a chronic, disabling and notoriously difficult condition to treat and antidepressants can be ineffective and risk switching the patient to the manic phase. Inadequately treating bipolar disorder can be a huge waste of NHS resources, and also leads to increased relapses, hospitalisation and deterioration. I hope the data from this study helps persuade commissioners that although newer medicine costs and interventions might appear high, the cost of poorly treated bipolar disorder is far greater.”

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