A pioneering scheme to help improve the physical health of people with a serious mental illness is to be piloted by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in Bradford, Wakefield and York.
Bradford and District CCG, the City of Bradford CCG, Vale of York CCG and Wakefield CCG are being supported in implementing the Mental Health Physical Review Template, known as the Bradford Tool, by the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN).
This follows early trials by Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust (BDCFT) and the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SWYPFT).
Improving the physical health of patients with a serious mental illness is a national priority set out in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View for Mental Health.
The Bradford Tool systematically guides healthcare professionals through appropriate physical health checks to support the diagnosis of conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
Lynsey Bowker, Programme Manager at the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, said: “Studies have shown that patients with a serious mental illness are at risk of dying prematurely, in some cases up to 20 years earlier than the general population.
“We also know that many of these premature deaths are preventable if conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular problems are identified and treated early.
“Academic Health Science Networks were set up to spread innovation and good practice so we are delighted to be supporting the roll out of 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 a serious mental illness.”
Dr Phil Earnshaw, Chair of NHS Wakefield CCG and local GP said: “We are eager to progress the implementation of this work to help improve the physical health of patients with a serious mental illness. Evidence clearly shows a reduced life expectancy among people with the most severe forms of mental illness.
“The work we will undertake with the AHSN and our partners will enable health care professionals to provide greater support and opportunities for those with a serious mental illness and improve their quality of life.”
Dr Angela Moulson, a Bradford GP with a Special Interest in Mental Health who helped develop the template, said: “Before we introduced the template, no patients with a serious mental illness had a cardiovascular disease risk calculation and only a few had any blood tests.
“After its introduction we saw an increase of 54 per cent in recording of blood glucose. Patients benefit from having a high quality physical health check, which will hopefully lead to interventions to reduce the 15-20 year premature mortality of these patients. We are now looking to the AHSN to help raise awareness and educate primary care providers about these important checks and help us with data collection so that we can fully evaluate the template’s effectiveness and outcomes for patients.”
Dr Louise Barker, GP Lead for Mental Health at the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are delighted to be part of this project as improving the physical health care of people with mental illnesses is a major priority for the Vale of York CCG.
“Patients really do value being asked about their physical health. If we can monitor patients from the outset of treatment, then we can make sure we understand and capture any changes. We can also offer education to help patients understand the impact that antipsychotic treatment can have on their physical health.
“We feel that in the long term this approach to caring will reduce the risk of long term physical health complications and this population will experience a longer and healthier lifespan.”