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NHS England calls for improved mental health services

NHS England calls for improved mental health services


Commissioners must work with service users to address the mortality gap for those with mental health problems, NHS England has said. 

Mental health services should be put on an equal footing with physical health services as the first step to tackling the disparity, according to Dr Martin McShane, NHS England’s director for patients with long-term conditions. 

Though average life expectancy increases steadily year on year in England, people with mental health issues still have a life expentancy equivalent to the general population in the 1950s. 

People with mental health problems are at increased risk of heart disease, stroke, liver and respiratory diseases and some cancers. 

Smoking prevalence is twice as high in people with long term mental health conditions than the general population. 

Bowel cancer is 3-4 times more likely for people suffering from schizophrenia. Up to 50% of cancer patients develop common mental health problems, compared to 16% of the general population. 

Dr McShane said: “The ‘mortality gap’ we see today is shocking.  It is not acceptable people with mental health conditions die younger. 

“For too long, physical and mental health problems have been treated separately and people do not get the services they need every time. 

“We know significant challenges remain but we must act to ensure mental health on a par with physical health. Doing nothing is not an option.  We must create high quality care for all, now and for future generations.”

Mental health conditions cost approximately £105 billon a year, taking into consideration loss of earnings, associated healthcare and welfare costs, far outweighing the £14 billion invested by the NHS each year on giving direct care for people with mental health.

Dr Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England’s national clinical director for mental health said: “We need to challenge existing practice and pathways to improve health outcomes for people with mental illness. 

“National and local services must meet the needs of those with mental health conditions – we must design a service that meets the needs of its users, and not expect users to fit in with the services we design.” 


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