Clinicians are to give mentally ill patients additional checks to help reduce the number who die young unnecessarily, officials have said.
Hundreds of thousands of people with serious mental health problems are dying of the same conditions as the general population but 15 years earlier, NHS England said.
“We are committed to making sure that mental health is treated the same way as physical health”
Those with serious mental issues have the same time life expectancy as the general population did in the 1950s.
Now health officials are trying to stem the tide of avoidable deaths by offering all mental health patients “lifestyle MoTs” as well as assessing their psychological needs, NHS England has announced.
The health authority said that mental health trusts in England will now receive financial rewards for checking whether patients smoke, have poor diets or have problems with their weight, blood sugar and blood pressure. They must also ensure any identified problems are treated.
Dr Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England’s national clinical director for mental health, said: “We are committed to making sure that mental health is treated the same way as physical health and NHS England is working hard to close the gap between the two with great support from partners and the field.
“The national financial incentive we have introduced this year for trusts is the world’s largest ever initiative in improving physical health in people with severe mental ill health conditions and will be a clinical quality game changer,” she said.
“We are starting by targeting in-patients who we know are most at risk, and where there are major opportunities to increase knowledge about healthy lifestyles and support smoking cessation,” she added.
“They are also in the best position to receive both assessments and treatment for those common conditions that are killing our patients 14 to 20 years early.”
Care and support minister Norman Lamb said: “I want to build a fairer society where people with mental health problems get the same quality of health care as everyone else.
“Through the Mandate, we’ve asked NHS England to make real progress towards equality for mental health by March 2015 and I welcome this initiative, which is a hugely positive step forward.”