Weight gain and obesity, type II diabetes, respiratory and heart problems are just some of the conditions that are causing avoidable deaths in mental health patients. These conditions are often caused by poor life style choices as well as by anti psychotic and anti depressant medication but each patient should have clinical advice and support with any of these problems. They are entitled to the same treatment for their physical illnesses as the rest of the population.
Rethink, a mental health charity has today sent a report to the Government outlining its concerns that mental health patients are treated differently to others when it comes to diagnosing, treating and reviewing physical illnesses. They suggest that mental health patients are not receiving the standard of treatment they deserve. If they did, many deaths could be avoided.
Statistically, compared with the general population, people with serious mental health problems have 2 times the risk of diabetes, 2-3 times the risk of hypertension, 3 times the risk of dying from coronary heart disease and for people with schizophrenia a 10-fold increase in deaths from respiratory disease. Overall, in the under 50s there is 4 times the risk of dying prematurely.
Rethink say this is because the NHS is failing mental health patients and causing unnecessary deaths.
The Rethink report’s recommendations are:
- People with mental illness should be offered tailored support to quit smoking.
- Patients should be told about the side-effects of antipsychotic medication so they can look out for warning signs, and GPs should monitor their physical health closely.
- All mental health professionals should receive basic physical health training as part of their mandatory training.
- Commissioners and service providers need to be clear about the respective responsibilities of primary and secondary care services for monitoring and managing the physical health of people with mental health problems.
These recommendations intended to heighten awareness and to improve standards but from a legal point of view, if these aren’t bring followed then this could amount to medical negligence. Clinicians are there to look after patient’s mental and physical well being regardless of their medical history.
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