Patients with severe mental illness don't weather hospital shakeups well

The reorganization of mental health services in hospitals can negatively affect the health of patients with severe mental illness because it disrupts relationships between patients and providers, a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found.

The study assesses how service reorganization affects continuity of care for patients with long-term mental illness. The researchers looked at more than 5,800 people in one of England's National Health Service facilities between 2006 and 2016.

In 2011, the NHS had a major reorganization of hospital services, with repeated smaller reorganizations before and after. In 11 years, 58 new community teams for people with psychosis were opened and 100 teams were closed.

The researchers examined services for patients with schizophrenia since those with long-term conditions are most vulnerable to disorganized health services. The study revealed a strong correlation between decline in continuity of care for patients with schizophrenia and decline in these patients' symptoms and functioning.

"A consistent relationship with individual staff is vital when caring for people with schizophrenia," said study author Alastair Macdonald. "Our results suggest that the repeated reorganization of services disrupts continuity of care, with negative impacts on patients with severe and enduring mental health problems."

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