The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has issued a new quality standard intended to improve care for adult patients with psychosis and schizophrenia.
NICE noted that only a third of people with schizophrenia currently received physical health checks, despite the fact that people with the condition often die 15-20 years earlier than other people.
“There are certain areas… where we know more still needs to be done to drive improvements in care”
The quality standard called for regular health checks to be “prioritised”.
Healthcare professionals should monitor weight, waist and blood pressure measurements with results to be shared with a person’s GP and mental health team, said NICE.
Other priorities include ensuring people who have a first episode of psychosis start treatment in an early intervention in psychosis service within two weeks of being referred.
Offering cognitive behavioural therapy to help people with psychosis and schizophrenia cope with symptoms should also be prioritised, as should providing education and support programmes for carers.
“We urge mental health professionals… to act on the quality standards”
In addition, the standard stressed the need for structured employment programmes to be made available to people with psychosis and schizophrenia who would like to find work.
NICE deputy chief executive Professor Gillian Leng said improvements had been made in mental health services but there was still “some way to go” before all patients with psychosis and schizophrenia received high-quality care.
“There are certain areas such as offering health checks, providing access to psychological therapies and employment support, where we know more still needs to be done to drive improvements in care,” she said.
“With this new quality standard we want to highlight what health and social care services need to prioritise,” she added.
Mark Winstanley, chief executive officer of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “We urge mental health professionals, service providers and local commissioners to act on the quality standards.”
Recent figures showed that until 2009, there were about 17,000 new cases of psychosis and 8,000 new cases of schizophrenia in England each year.