New tool will help to ensure better physical health for people with mental illness


NHS England has announced that a new clinical tool will help frontline nurses ensure that they are providing up-to-date physical care for people with mental health problems. The Lester Tool will help frontline staff make assessments of cardiac and metabolic health, helping to cut mortality for people with mental illnesses.

The Lester Tool is a summary poster to guide health workers to assess the cardiometabolic health of people experiencing psychosis and schizophrenia.

Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England’s national clinical director for mental health, said, ‘NHS England is committed to making sure that mental health is treated the same way as physical health.

‘People with severe mental illness, including schizophrenia, are at risk of dying up to 15–20 years before the general population, and the case for closing the gap in mortality and quality of life for people with severe mental illness is clear.

‘It is our hope that by publishing this downloadable resource, in partnership with Public Health England , that doctors and nurses will be able to consult it regularly to monitor, and intervene to improve the health of service users, thus helping reduce premature mortality in people experiencing serious mental illness.’

The Lester adaptation 2014 is a summary of the key interventions and treatments that frontline staff working with people with mental illnesses can use to guide them in safe, effective care, for example, the assessment of smoking history, lifestyle, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, glucose regulation and blood lipids. It also provides appropriate interventions and targets to improve that person’s physical health.

The poster is available in a printable downloadable format and clinicians may find it helpful to have a copy in every clinic and team meeting room. It may also form the basis of team learning and CPD events. It has been produced in collaboration with NHS England’s clinical directors for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver and renal disease.

Gregor Henderson, national lead for wellbeing and mental health at Public Health England, said, ‘Public Health England wants to make a real difference to improve the shocking and unacceptable disparities in life expectancy and poor health experienced by people living with mental health problems. We are examining the wider determinants of mental health and wellbeing, as well as providing new and updated resources and guidance to help improve the public’s mental health.

The Lester Tool has attracted significant interest from other countries. This updated resource adds further improvements to this welcome innovation. I urge healthcare and public health workers to use this updated Lester Tool to help better meet a person’s physical health needs and significantly improve their quality of life and wellbeing.’

Find out more about the Lester Tool here

Picture: lel4nd @flickr

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