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Ensure mental health patients get the same care, commissioners told

Ensure mental health patients get the same care, commissioners told

Commissioners should make sure people with severe mental health illness do not miss out on care for physical problems, according to doctors’ leaders.
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Commissioners should  make sure people with severe mental health illness do not miss out on care for physical problems, according to doctors’ leaders.

A  joint report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges called for greater leadership to  improve the life expectancy of adults with severe mental illness (SMI).

Patients risk dying an average 10 to 20 years early because of poor mental health, the report said.

It said commissioners should ensure that patients in mental healthcare settings “are not disadvantaged in their ability to access physical health services compared to the general population.”

It said that analysis of quality and outcomes framework (QOF ) data suggested “in many clinical commissioning group areas, people with SMI may be less likely to receive the same screening, tests and interventions as the general population.”

Professor Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners,  said: “Patients are living longer and reaping the benefits of advances in medicine over the last 50 years, and those with serious mental illness must not be left behind. A key part of this is ensuring that patients with serious mental illness maintain good physical health and wellbeing.”

She said the report “drives home the need for more mental health services in the community, and for GPs and our teams to have better, easier and quicker access to these.”

The authors call on commissioners to support improvement in clinical practice. They should ensure mental healthcare services have a named individual in charge of better physical healthcare for patients with SMI.

Amongst other recommendations are reviewing training for healthcare staff to recognise patients physical health needs.

It highlights the work of the  Healthy London Partnership which engaged 32 CCGs early  to develop its commissioning guidance and asked them what tools were needed locally.

It said the guidance “reflected the commissioners’ needs, involved them on the development process and so increased the likelihood of uptake of the commissioning guidance.”

The report includes tips on working with commissioners and pitching services. Advice includes knowing the planning cycles and how services meet national policy including the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health.

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