Physical health checks for mental health patients

  • Mental health trusts will now be paid to carry out assessments of the physical condition and lifestyle of psychiatric patients.

    The programme aims to reduce the number of mental health patients who die from heart, liver and lung disease. NHS England has said the scheme is the biggest initiative of its kind, reports the BBC.

    The life expectancy of mental health patients is similar to people living in the 1950s due to physical health problems shortening their lives by about fifteen years earlier than the general population. /images/mentalhealth.jpg

    Assessments will look into a variety of indicators which will include the patients' diet, weight, blood pressure and whether they smoke. The first to be checked will be those on anti-psychotic drugs as the pills can lead to rapid weight gain, and some patients refuse to take the medication for that reason.

    After the assessments have been carried out, the patient will be passed to another consultant or given education and advice on the appropriate ways to improve their physical health. NHS England has estimated that mental health trusts could earn an extra £200,000 this year from carrying out the checks.

    Dr Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England's national clinical director for mental health, said: "We are committed to making sure that mental health is treated the same way as physical health, and NHS England is working hard to close the gap between the two. The national financial incentive we have introduced this year for trusts is the world's largest ever initiative in improving physical health in people with severe mental ill health conditions and will be a clinical quality game changer. Mental health staff in England are to carry out lifestyle checks on their patients to improve their physical health in an attempt to reduce avoidable deaths."

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