Researchers are calling for urgent changes to healthcare system for patients with bipolar

An expert from Southampton University has highlighted how the healthcare system in the UK is failing millions of people affected by bipolar.  

The researcher, known as Dr Thomas Richardson, worked with Bipolar UK, a national mental health charity supporting people with the condition, as part of a group of 26 world-leading experts.

Dr Richardson carried out a questionnaire to gather data for a report on the subject and found there is an average diagnosis delay of 9.5 years for people with the condition.

The group of experts, known as The Bipolar Commission, presented the report at the House of Commons on Tuesday which outlined two key changes that need to be made to improve bipolar patients’ care which includes reducing diagnostic time and delivering a greater continuity of care.

To reduce diagnosis times, experts are asking policy makers to implement bipolar screening across primary and secondary services and introduce specialist training across the NHS.

Once diagnosed, experts are also advocating appointing a new National Clinical Director of Mood Disorders to ensure everyone with the condition has access to a clinician that will carefully oversee all prescriptions and medication changes.  

Dr Thomas Richardson, Associate Professor in Clinical Psychology from the University of Southampton said: ‘It has been great to be involved and help with this report. As a clinician and somebody with lived experience of bipolar, the finding of an average of 9.5 years to get a correct diagnosis is shocking.

‘As a clinical psychologist, it is disappointing that only 69% with a diagnosis have been offered psychological therapy on the NHS despite clear evidence that it helps and it being in the NICE guidelines. Many people are having to pay for therapy which isn’t right.

‘Part of my role at the University of Southampton is to train mental health professionals to deliver psychological therapies such as cognitive behaviour therapy for bipolar to increase access to this treatment.’

CEO of Bipolar UK, Simon Kitchen, added: ‘The report suggests that to make a huge initial impact, a re-allocation of the funding that is already available will provide a significant improvement to people’s lives.’

According to the researchers, there are currently more than one million people with bipolar in the UK.

Image: kulli-kittus via UnSplash 


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