A new health check programme is being launched by NHS England with the key aim of reducing the number of mental health patients dying from heart, liver and lung diseases in particular.
The scheme will see Mental Health Trusts being paid for health assessments of the physical condition and lifestyle of psychiatric patients.
Mental health patients die from physical health problems about 15 years earlier than the general population and their life expectancy is similar to people living in the 1950’s.
The assessments will look into a number of indicators including patients’ diet, weight, blood pressure and whether they smoke.
Hospital patients will be among the first to checked, especially those on anti-psychotic drugs. The pills can lead to rapid weight gain and some patients refuse the medication for that reason.
Once the assessments have been carried out, the patient can be passed to another consultant or given education and advice on the appropriate ways to improve their physical health.
NHS England estimate that mental health trusts could earn up to £200,000 this year from carrying out the checks.