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BMA launch mental health parity of esteem plea

BMA launch mental health parity of esteem plea


Urgent action must be taken to ensure that equal value is placed on both patients’ mental and physical health, the British Medical Association (BMA) has claimed.

A report released by the organisation highlights claims that physical health problems of people with mental illness or a learning disability are often underdressed. 

And the mental health of patients with a physical illness are "often neglected", leading to high levels of excess mortality, Recognising the importance of physical health in mental health and intellectual disability – achieving parity of outcomes claims. 

Around 60% of excess mortality among people with mental illness is due to physical ill health with, on average, men suffering from mental health problems having a shortened life expectancy of 20 years while women are likely to die 15 years earlier than the general population. 

For adults with an intellectual disability, similar patterns of premature mortality are seen.

The BMA is today calling for a range of measures, including:

 - Better integration of learning disability, mental health and physical healthcare to ensure there are clear pathways of care, and allocation of responsibility.

 - A liaison psychiatry service and intellectual disability liaison service to be made available in all hospitals.

 - All mental health trusts to appoint a liaison physician in psychiatric wards to support the physical health needs of patients.

 - The establishment of a National Learning Disability Mortality Review.

 - Improved training for trainees and doctors in how to deal appropriately with both people with mental illness and people with intellectual disability, and to make any needed adjustments to their care to achieve good outcomes.

Professor Sheila Hollins, chair of the BMA’s Board of Science, said: “It is deeply concerning that mental health in the UK is not universally held in the same regard as patients’ physical health, nor does it receive comparable levels of funding. There would be an outcry if patients with a physical illness were denied treatment or care due to cuts in funding, yet this is what we are seeing for those patients suffering from mental illness.

“A person suffering from a severe mental illness or who has an ID, is much more likely to have a physical health problem, and worryingly is more likely to die of that illness within five years. Despite this evidence, their physical health continues to be under-addressed, while the mental health of those with a physical problem is all too often neglected.

“In order to address this problem it is vital that we stop emphasising one or the other, and ensure that equal value is placed on both mental and physical health, particularly for the most vulnerable members of society.”


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