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Mental health pilot scheme doubles number of patients receiving physical checks


31 May 2016

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Four mental health trusts have nearly doubled the number of people in their care getting physical health checks.

Hundreds of patients with serious mental illness (SMI) were part of the two-year improvement programme to improve physical care in mental health inpatient units.

This saw 86% get five recommended cardiovascular screens compared to 46% when the scheme started and interventions delivered to those who needed them as a result of appropriate screening increased from 79% to 94%.

Four mental health trusts have nearly doubled the number of people in their care getting physical health checks.

Hundreds of patients with serious mental illness (SMI) were part of the two-year improvement programme to improve physical care in mental health inpatient units.

This saw 86% get five recommended cardiovascular screens compared to 46% when the scheme started and interventions delivered to those who needed them as a result of appropriate screening increased from 79% to 94%.

The scheme involved using the “Lester toolkit”, a poster and electronic clinical prompt system to support clinical teams to screen and intervene for cardiovascular conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as smoking, lifestyle and weight.

Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust have implemented the Lester tool.

The success is such that the scheme is now being put forward for use across the NHS to improve the lifespan of patients with SMI.

SMI patients die on average 20 years earlier than the general population due to preventable physical health problems.

It has been found that around 12,000 fewer people would die from cardiovascular disease if people with SMI had the same outcomes as the general population.

Poverty, side effects of anti-psychotic medication, lifestyle and difficulty accessing mainstream GP, acute and mental health services can contribute to this.

Dr Geraldine Strathdee, the national clinical director for mental health said:“We have been very pleased by the results from this pilot which have shown that physical health care in mental health in-patient settings can be improved, as well as treating their mental health.

“We recommend that trusts and primary care teams, mental health trusts and commissioners use the Lester tool.

“This is now available as a poster for all clinical areas, as a clinician decision support template (the Bradford tool) for primary care, with roll commenced in leading specialist mental health electronic care records systems.

“We can no longer see patients with serious mental illness only through the prism of their mental health; we must ensure an integrated physical and mental health, as well as social care, approach to monitoring and treating equally.”

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