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Let’s get physical: serious mental illness

Published: 18 April, 2015

Bradford scheme – supporting physical checks for people with serious mental illness

People with serious mental illness are at risk of dying up to 25 years younger than the general population due to physical health problems. The priority for these patients is their mental health and lifestyle factors such as obesity, possible diabetes and cardiac risk may take a back seat.

80 GP surgeries across Bradford and Airedale, with 5,000 patients with serious mental illness, have introduced a new approach to improve the physical health of patients. It is similarly being used system wide – with five new clinics, and within hospitals with 200+ beds. Bespoke versions of a template are used in primary and secondary care IT, making sure that patients benefit from key physical checks including blood pressure, pulse and respiration, height weight and BMI, and blood tests, and ECG, lifestyle assessment to include diet, exercise and smoking status, any issues relating to sexual dysfunction and referral to appropriate services if needed.

The templates are described by Dr Geraldine Strathdee, National Clinical Director for mental health for NHS England, as a “terrific, practical support tool to help every GP and practice nurse, and every psychiatrist and specialist mental health nurse to tackle one of the greatest ‘parity’ inequalities in British healthcare” .

Kate Dale, mental health nurse and physical health project lead for Bradford District Care Trust,  points out that the medication that patients with serious mental illness are prescribed may lead to weight gain that may not be monitored, leading to the possibility of undiagnosed diabetes, raised blood pressure and other physical health problems. She believes that, if used nationally, this tool could save many thousands of lives.

“Our data entry template system has seen a huge change in the perceptions and practicalities around treating this group of patients in primary and secondary care and we would be delighted to share it with the whole country and help save lives, reduce the risk of chronic physical health problems and ultimately lead to this population living healthier,” said Kate.

The SystemOne electronic Mental Health Physical Review Template was introduced into primary care in 2012 and is now used within the annual physical health check, the tool helps support GPs and practice nurses structure how to detect the possible additional problems these patients may experience.

Source:

Thousands of patients could be saved thanks to Bradford scheme, NHS England 8 April 2015.

 

Last updated: 21 May, 2018

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