hscicPeople with mental illness spend longer in hospital on average than the general population, yet are less likely to have a procedure performed during their stay, new figures have revealed.

Statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) shows differences in the age profile and diagnoses recorded during 2011/12 for the 1.6 million patients who use NHS funded specialist mental health services compared to the general population.

For instance, patients who use mental health services had a longer average length of stay in hospital at 3.1 days compared to 2.1 days for other inpatients.

But inpatients from the mental health group were less likely to have any procedures during their stay; more than two thirds (70%) of the 5.1 million bed days occupied by this group were for patients with no procedure recorded. This compares to just over a third (37% of 28.5 million bed days) for other hospital inpatients.

The data also showed that half of people with mental ill health attending A&E arrived by ambulance, compared to about one in four of the general population. It also found that upon discharge from A&E, a larger proportion of the mental health group were admitted to hospital – 36%  – compared to less than a quarter (22%) of other A&E attendees.

Previous analysis by the HSCIC had found that mental health service users have more than double the attendance rate across hospital services (A&E, inpatients, and outpatients) compared to the general population.

The research also found that the age profile of hospital inpatients from the mental health group includes proportionally more ‘older’ people, peaking at 85 years old, compared to other hospital inpatients, where the peak is between the mid-60’s to mid-70’s. This is explained by the number of people with dementia admitted to hospital.

The most common diagnosis for inpatients from the mental health group was a urinary tract infection, which is likely to be a reflection of their older demographic. This diagnosis was the fifth most common for other hospital inpatients.

Ranking primary diagnosis by number of care episodes, there were clear differences between the mental health group and other hospital inpatients. Diagnoses that were much more common for people with mental ill health included:

• Mental and behavioural disorders due to use of alcohol
• Senility
• Schizophrenia
• Poisoning by psychotropic drugs not elsewhere classified
• Depressive episode
• Poisoning by antiepileptic, sedative-hypnotic and anti-parkinsonism.