National standard exceeded for providing physical health checks for people with severe mental illness


The NHS organisation responsible for planning health services in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) has exceeded the national standard for its severe mental illness (SMI) physical health checks and is now one of the highest performing areas in the country.

Working with health and care partners from across BNSSG, the area’s Integrated Care Board has achieved the national standard in the uptake of health checks for people with severe mental illness with an 81% uptake rate against the national target of 75%.

Dr Natasha Ward, Clinical Lead for Mental Health at Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board, said:

“We are absolutely delighted that we have exceeded the national standard in uptake of these health checks.

“People with severe mental illness can be more likely to develop physical health issues compared to others so it’s really important they have their physical health check each year.

“We have worked hard with our partners over the last three years to increase the number of people with severe mental illness diagnoses who receive an annual physical health check. We have put new resources into mental health and primary care, provided good practice guidance and set up a project in Inner-City Bristol to ensure that particular ethnic minority communities are treated fairly.

“Going forward we will be focusing our attention on ensuring that the health checks are followed up, that we support the engagement of those small numbers of people who continue not to receive any of the health checks and that we take specific action to address the particular health inequalities faced by some ethnic minority communities.”

Anyone aged 18 or over who has schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or psychosis is eligible for a free physical health check once a year.

Primary Care Network, 4PCN, in South Gloucestershire is one set of practices that have developed strong processes for engaging their patients with severe mental illness and following up the physical health checks.

Sarah Cole, Primary Care Network Manager for 4PCN, which is made up of Hanham Health, Kingswood Health Centre, Cadbury Heath Healthcare and Close Farm Surgery, explained:

“We recognised that patients with severe mental illness face additional challenges, and we wanted to break down the barriers to accessing care and support for them.

“We have a dedicated team of Care Coordinators who not only do the physical health checks in a location where the patient feels comfortable, such as their own home, but they also take time to listen to what the patient and their carers might need in order to look after their health and support them to achieve those goals.

“We have seen some fantastic examples of where this has made a tangible difference to the health and wellbeing of our patients and are very proud of our team.”