Purpose – The North of England characteristically has higher levels of alcoholrelated harm and higher levels of mental illness compared with the South. The purpose of this paper is to present observations on the use of services by people who have both alcohol and mental health problems to explore the equality and economic impact of services.
Design/methodology/approach – Inpatient hospital datasets as well as other NHS service datasets were examined to gather intelligence on alcohol and cooccurring mental and behavioural disorders.
Findings – The study finds that there are high levels of dual diagnosis (DD) of alcohol and mental health in the North West with significantly higher rates in the more socially deprived areas and gap in access to services.
Research limitations/implications – These health inequalities in relation to DD can only be demonstrated robustly for hospital inpatient admissions because other datasets currently provide intelligence only at larger geographies – such as Primary Care Trust – or by service provider.
Practical implications – Population surveys are useful to generate estimates of the prevalence of mental health issues in alcohol users which then reveal that there are greater inequalities in access to services in more deprived populations. Such valuable intelligence should be generated at the local level so that the most appropriate and the most cost effective services can be commissioned for the local population. Originality/value – This is the first time that the economic cost of DD in the various services has been estimated.