We must improve medication safety in mental health care

Improving medication safety in mental health is imperative, Dr Geraldine Strathdee stressed today.

NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Mental Health said: “We must make sure we tackle the higher levels of mortality and reduced life expectancy in patients with mental illness and we are committed to pushing mental health to the top of the NHS agenda.”

She spoke before a conference being held in London today that will also focus on improving medication safety in mental health, reducing the impact of medication side effects, improving prescribing and reducing the reliance on medications in mental health.

The conference will include practical case study sessions highlighting how organisations have reduced the impact of side effects of psychotropic medications on the physical health of their patients, how they have reduced medications overall, and improved adherence where medication use is recommended.

Sessions will also look at the scale of medication errors in mental health and how the number and severity of errors in terms of harm can be reduced.

Dr Strathdee highlighted the importance of the conference adding: “Patients with schizophrenia will on average die 14.6 years earlier, bipolar 10.1 and patients with schizoaffective disorder eight years earlier than the general population. They are dying of the same conditions as the general population but have the life expectancy of people living in the 1950s.”

Among today’s speakers is consultant psychiatrist Dr Mo Zoha, an honorary senior lecturer at Imperial College, who will tell delegates: “We need to ensure that patients with mental health problems do not suffer inequalities, either because of the mental health problem itself or because they do not get the best care for their physical health problems.

“Medicines safety is everybody’s business,” he will add. “We are doing an audit of the reviews of anti-psychotic drugs because we want to reduce the prescribing of such drugs to people with dementia.

“We will be carrying out regular medication reviews of patients with dementia who are prescribed antipsychotics and the outcomes will be communicated to GPs, patients and carers.

“There are some statistics which you may find quite surprising but show just how much commitment the NHS must make in this field.

“One in two people experience a mental health condition in their lifetime and at least one third of all families – including parents and their children – have someone who is currently mentally ill.

“Thousands of people with a mental health condition are using medication so it’s key we ensure the side effects are reduced as far as possible.

“We know the impact of mental disorders exceeds all other health conditions and we are working across the board now to ensure we achieve parity of esteem for mental health.”

It must be treated on a par with physical health and the physical health of people with mental health conditions must be a priority for all health professionals in the field.

One comment

  1. Michael Vidal says:

    Dr Geraldine Strathdee may find it useful to read the report on this area by Healthwatch Hackney which was written with the help of service users. The contact at Healthwatch Hackney is Liz Hughes whose email is