Making it real


This is Berwick-upon-Tweed. It’s a lovely little place, well worth a visit. At various times it has found itself on either side of the Anglo-Scottish border. Neither country has ever insisted that the other should have it.

At the last census it had a population of about 12,000. That’s why it’s here on this blog. NHS England has just published “Improving the Physical Health of People with Serious Mental Illness” which contains the shocking comment that “Estimates suggest there would be up to 12,000 fewer deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD) if people with SMI had the same outcomes as the general population.”

Just think of that a moment. It’s as if we allowed the whole population of Berwick-upon-Tweed to die each year when they didn’t need to. As a number it’s appalling enough, but if you visualise it as the people of a small border town, it begins to sound like a horror movie.

The difference is that in a horror movie there’s usually nothing that can be done to ward off the fate, but in this case we can – and must – take action to protect these vulnerable patients.

At our highly successful JoMO-UKCPA workshop on diabetes earlier this month attendees could hear James Lee (Senior Clinical Pharmacist, Exeter, East & Mid Devon, Devon Partnership Trust) and Michael Marven (Chief Pharmacist & Clinical Director for Medicines Management, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust) speaking about the need to address this problem and how practice in mental health has to change to do so. But this is not a problem to be solved only by mental health professionals. Every healthcare professional who cares for a patient with serious mental illness has to address their physical health needs too.

Here at Pharmacy Management we believe that mental illnesses are usually long term conditions and have to be managed as such. It’s bad enough having a long term condition, but to have a long term condition that predisposes to another long term condition, or whose treatment causes another long term condition is a double blow. That’s why we applaud NHS England for giving this such prominence, and that’s why we’ll be returning to the subject from time to time. Those 12,000 people demand no less.


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