BMJ Awards 2021: Mental health team of the yearBMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n2154 (Published 09 September 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n2154
- Matt Limb, freelance journalist
- London, UK
Meeting the physical needs of mental health patients
“Mortality rates in patients with a severe mental illness are excessively high—they die up to 20 years earlier than the general population,” says Dolly Sud, project lead and senior mental health pharmacist at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust. “Evidence shows that this mortality gap has increased over time. Patients with severe mental illness continue to benefit less than the general population from progressions in healthcare.” Studies have shown that cardiovascular diseases and metabolic diseases are the main physical illnesses in patients with severe mental illness.
The Leicestershire Physical Health Register was established to tackle this difference. It comprises a lead pharmacist, centralised bespoke electronic database, and technical staff, and collects key information related to health screening and interventions from a variety of sources, such as general practitioner records. Typically, these include relevant blood tests for lipids or interventions for diet and lifestyle. It sends reminders, if required, to appropriate healthcare professionals to ensure these are done.
Five years after the register was implemented there was a 72% improvement in rate of health screening and interventions compared with baseline measured at the start of year one. Feedback from health professionals shows the register has helped them meet and manage patients’ physical health needs. “This has made a real difference for the care of our patients and has tackled an issue that hasn’t been resolved by other methods for …