Improving Physical Health of People with Mental Illness

We should have fewer cases where people are unable to get physical care due to mental health problems affecting engagement and attendance (or vice versa). And we need provision of mental health support in physical health care settings – especially primary care. – Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, 2016

Our local aim within the Northern England Clinical Networks is to reduce premature mortality of those with serious mental illness.

Why prioritise it?

Two extra people die every day in the North of England from a preventable, treatable physical illness just because they have a mental illness.

In December 2013 we held a network event to highlight the scandal which led to us agreeing that the top priority for the Network is to bring the health outcomes of people with mental ill health in line with those of the general population.

Network programmes of work

Mental Health and CHD

NTW, TEWV and Cumbria partnership have worked together with the NE&C Mental Health and Cardiology Network task and finish group to develop Guidelines for the Management of QTc Prolongation in Adults prescribed antipsychotics.

This work was initiated following a recognition that patients with a Serious Mental Illness are experiencing significant side effects to medicines they are prescribed which may create an increased risk of arrhythmias and premature death.

The joint working group has also raised awareness amongst CVD, cardiology and Mental Health teams and practitioners on the benefits of collaborative working.

Reducing Premature Mortality

The overall programme of work focuses on improving the physical health of people with mental illness. There are two key strands to this work:

1. To ensure that service users are supported to make positive changes to their lifestyle:

a. as smoking is the largest direct cause of avoidable death in the UK and smoking amongst people with mental illness remains high, we focused on this as our initial work stream.

2. To support the national Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) measure ‘Improving physical healthcare to reduce premature mortality in people with serious mental illness’:

a. to ensure a complete assessment of physical health needs is carried out and shared between primary care, mental health services and with the service user;
b. to ensure that service users have access to appropriate smoking cessation, weight management, and drug and alcohol services.

We’d like to hear from you if you would like to share examples of work you are doing in this area. For more information or to get involved please contact us.