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Improving care for people with mental illnesses

A representative of the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) will be speaking at an international conference about her work in developing a pioneering scheme designed to improve the physical health of people with serious mental illnesses.

Kate dale

Kate Dale is one of the keynote speakers at the 16th International Conference on Integrated Care, which will be held in Barcelona on May 23 – 25. She has been invited to talk about her work in developing the Mental Health Physical Review template and its benefits for patients. She also spoke at the Parity of Esteem event organised by East Midlands Mental Health Network on Thursday 12 May.

Kate is a leading expert in integrated care and has played a key role in improving the effectiveness of physical health checks for people with a severe mental illness.

Working with GPs and practice nurses, Kate, along with colleagues, has developed and produced a Mental Health Physical Review Template. This systematically guides healthcare professionals through appropriate annual health checks, now offered to all patients diagnosed with a serious mental illness.

The Mental Health Physical Review template was initially trialled in the Bradford area with the full support of the Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust in collaboration with the district’s Clinical Commissioning Groups.

It is now being rolled out across parts of the Yorkshire and Humber region in both primary and secondary health care providers with the help and support of the AHSN.

In December 2015, the template was made available nationally through the SystmOne IT platform used by 2,700 GP practices (approximately a third of all practices in the country).

Figures show that, in the period up to the end of March 2016, the template had been used in 10,000 consultations and replicated and adapted locally over 150 times.

Kate said: “Studies have shown that patients with serious mental illness are at risk of dying prematurely – in some cases 25 years earlier than the general population and this is why these health checks are so important.

“Many premature deaths are preventable and treatable if conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular problems are identified early.”

She added: “Results from the pilots we have already completed show a marked improvement in the quality and number of health assessments carried out for patients with a serious mental illness. This is helping to bring about a really positive change not only for patients but also for nursing staff and doctors.”

Kate concluded: “There is no health without mental health and physical health; we need to look at patients holistically and not segregate the two. By improving the physical health of people with a serious mental health condition we can reduce the number of premature deaths across the UK.”

Lynsey Bowker, Programme Manager at the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN said: “Academic Health Science Networks were set up to spread innovation and good practice. We are therefore delighted to be supporting Kate to share this programme of work at pace and scale across Yorkshire and Humber and nationally via the wider AHSN network.

“This programme is a real opportunity to improve the life expectancy and quality of life of people with serious mental illness.”

NHS England is showcasing the work as an example of good practice as an advocate for achieving parity of esteem between physical and mental health.