New NHS Confederation briefing on the future of liaison psychiatry


The NHS Confederation have published a new report on liaison psychiatry services that has been written by the Centre for Mental Health.

Liaison psychiatry is concerned with the interface between medicine and psychiatry and typically involves patients with medical conditions that also result in psychiatric or behavioural symptoms, such as delirium.

The study set out to identify how liaison psychiatry can most effectively contribute to the Government’s quality, innovation, productivity and prevention (QIPP) challenge of improving health outcomes while also reducing healthcare costs.

It is based on case studies of five established liaison psychiatry services around the country, a review of published research and discussions with academic and other experts.

Key points from the report include:

  • Failing to deal with mental and physical health issues at the same time leads to poorer health outcomes and costs the NHS more money
  • Liaison psychiatry offers an ideal way of contributing to the NHS’s QIPP agenda of better health at a lower cost
  • Every general and acute hospital should have a dedicated in-house liaison psychiatry service – the scale and nature of which should vary according to local needs
  • Long-term development of liaison psychiatry is likely to lie primarily in the expanded provision of community-facing services

Sean Duggan, chief executive of Centre for Mental Health, said:

Liaison psychiatry is still seen in some quarters as an optional extra in the NHS. This needs to change. Tackling the artificial divide between mental and physical health will help people to recover more quickly and save the NHS money. To do this we need a dedicated liaison psychiatry service in every hospital.


Liaison psychiatry – the way ahead (PDF). NHS Confederation, Nov 2012.

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