By Dr Beenish Memon, Psychiatrist
People with mental illness have three times more A&E attendances and five times more emergency inpatient admissions than people without mental illness (Dorning et al., 2015). This does not come as a revelation when patients with severe enduring mental illness are more prone to develop co-morbid physical health conditions (De Hert and others, 2009), and their life expectancy is reduced by 10-30 years (Bressington et al., 2014).This reckons that a more holistic approach to physical and mental health is needed.
Treat as one is a recent report from the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death published in Jan 2017 which outlines the findings of a recent review of the mental health care provided to patients who attend UK general hospitals with physical health problems. Those of you who haven’t come across NCEPOD before, their object is to assist in maintaining and improving standards of care for patients, and they do this by very well organised national surveys and research.
The study was put forward by Dr Natasha Robinson, formerly Associate Medical Director and Consultant Anesthetist at Northampton General Hospital. The full report is quite lengthy, nevertheless worth a read for the details.
It is evident from their report that mental health patients being treated for physical disorders are seriously disadvantaged. This report has drawn attention to the gap between mental and physical health services. It highlights some very important causes for these divisions are
To overcome this split between mental and physical healthcare it has been suggested that
Good quality working between general hospital and psychiatric hospitals can help the staff to work with confidence, and manage risk better. We not only need to improve mental health care but also physical health care provided to mental health patients in General hospital and community.
There needs to be a more robust system to allow communication and sharing of relevant Information Between various healthcare providers.
Finally, at present moment, patients access mental health needs and physical health needs via different doors, it is detrimental to a person’s overall well-being to regard these as two separate entities. Thus maybe it’s time patients just need one access for treatment of all of their healthcare needs?
Alleway, R. (2017). NCEPOD - Mental Health in General Hospitals: Treat as One (2017). [online] Ncepod.org.uk. Available at: http://www.ncepod.org.uk/2017mhgh.html
Bressington, D., Mui, J., Hulbert, S., Cheung, E., Bradford, S. and Gray, R. (2014). Enhanced physical health screening for people with severe mental illness in Hong Kong: results from a one-year prospective case series study. BMC Psychiatry, 14(1).
De Hert, M., Dekker, J., Wood, D., Kahl, K., Holt, R. and Möller, H. (2009). Cardiovascular disease and diabetes in people with severe mental illness position statement from the European Psychiatric Association (EPA), supported by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) and the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). European Psychiatry, 24(6).
Dorning, H., Davies, A. and Blunt, I. (2015). Focus on: People with mental ill health and hospital use: Exploring disparities in hospital use for physical healthcare [online]. London: The Health Foundation and Nuffield Trust. Available at
Cite this article as:
Beenish Memon (2017). Treat as One: new report highlighting gap between physical and mental health services. The Beautiful Space-A Journal of Mind, Art and Poetry. August 2017: TBSB121
Please check author names highlighted with each article.
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