New training for mental health nurses aims to reduce mortality gap for people with serious mental illness and physical ill health

Mental health nurses at Cavendish Square Group member Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (C&I), are undergoing targeted training to enhance their knowledge of physical health issues and help narrow the average 20 year mortality gap between people with serious mental illness (SMI) and the rest of the population.

Innovative “Physical Health Skills Passports” document the specific training the Trust’s nurses now undergo in assessing and treating physical health conditions such as diabetes and lung disease, which are significantly more prevalent in people with serious mental health conditions. The skills will enable staff at C&I’s community-based anti-psychotic drugs depots and wellbeing clinics to undertake physical health assessments alongside their usual mental health care responsibilities.

Claire Johnston, Director of Nursing at C&I, said: “By monitoring and assessing the physical health needs of our service users, at the same time as treating their mental health condition, our nursing staff are pivotal in enabling them to live, longer, healthier and happier lives.”

For too long, people with mental illness have struggled to get proper advice and support for their physical health concerns, including diabetes, COPD and smoking – and they have died too early from these preventable diseases. With our new tools and training for nursing staff we will be able to make a crucial difference to the quality of life for our service users and their families.”

With this initiative, C&I aims to:

  •          reduce the suicide rate among its psychosis patients by 20% by 2022
  •          cut the percentage of service users who smoke by two per cent per year by 2020
  •          carry out widespread screening for diabetes to determine full prevalence up to 2020, before then reducing to stabilise it at 18% or lower by 2022, reversing  the national trend 

This integrated approach responds directly to one of the priorities set out in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health to reduce the health inequalities gap and the Cavendish Square Group welcomes this; a joint approach to managing the physical and mental aspects of patient care saves lives.

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