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Trust Experts Influence Parliament as National Leads for Mental and Physical Health

A mental health programme being supported by the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network has seen the Trust experts leading it announced as joint national leads for the Positive Practice Mental Health Collaborative.

Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust leading mental health experts Kate Dale and Fiona Cooke have been announced as joint national leads for the Positive Practice Mental Health Collaborative’s Special Interest Group on Integrated Physical and Mental Health Care, which helps to influence policy makers and politicians.

The Collaborative raises the profile of mental health with Members of Parliament and works with a wide range of agencies, including NHS trusts, commissioners, police and third sector organisations to disseminate positive practices in mental health services.

Angie Russell from the Positive Practice Collaborative, said of Kate and Fiona’s appointment: “We are delighted to have two such highly motivated individuals as Kate and Fiona on board, their passion and enthusiasm to improve physical health services for people with mental health problems knows no bounds.”

Representing Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust and the Collaborative, Kate visited the House of Commons in January to meet Labour and Conservative politicians, including Shadow Cabinet Ministers to increase awareness of mental health issues. During the visit Kate spoke of the importance of improving the physical health of people with serious mental health issues. This comes after 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.

Gaining the full support of the Trust Board and Chief Executive Simon Large, Kate Dale and Fiona Cooke have been working hard to improve the physical health for people with severe mental health conditions, both locally and nationally in order to reduce premature mortality rates.

A key success of the work delivered by Kate and Fiona in primary care in Bradford and Airedale has been to work in collaboration with Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), which has been supported by GP Lead for Mental Health Dr Angela Moulson.

As a leading expert in this field, Kate regularly represents the Trust as a keynote speaker at conferences across the UK to raise awareness on this issue.  Kate has been instrumental in improving the effectiveness of physical health checks and reporting back on the positive results achieved within the Trust.

Elaborating further Kate Dale, Mental/Physical Health Project Lead explained: “For example a blood sugar test can diagnose the early onset of diabetes. A change of lifestyle can reverse the condition, so a change of behaviour can change the illness.  Many premature deaths are preventable and treatable if conditions are picked up early.”

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends annual physical health checks for people with serious mental health issues.

Working with GPs and practice nurses to educate and inform, Kate along with colleagues has developed and produced a Mental Health Physical Review Template.  This systematically guides GPs and practice nurses on appropriate annual health checks. The template is now available to use across 80 GP practices, within hospital wards and five physical health/ wellbeing clinics in Bradford and Airedale.

Fiona Cooke, Physical Health Lead for Inpatients added: “It’s been great to see what a difference the template has made not only for our patients, but also for our nursing staff and doctors – it has brought about a really positive change.”

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

The Academic Health Science Network for Yorkshire and Humber are now supporting Kate to roll this work out across Yorkshire and Humber with a view to launch this nationally.

Lynsey Bowker, Programme Manager of the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network said “Academic Health Science Networks were established to spread innovation and good practice. We are therefore delighted to be supporting Kate, Fiona and the wider team at Bradford DCFT to share their 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.”

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 serious mental health conditions we can reduce the number of premature deaths across the UK. The success of this project is down to the support of Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust and the sheer determination, drive and passion from the team of experts involved. Everyone has been willing to go the extra mile!”

To find out more about the Positive Practice Mental Health Collaborative visit: www.positivepracticemh.com/

Read Lynsey Bowkers blog on supporting the programme here