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GPs urged to use updated tool to assess physical health of mentally ill patients

NHS England is urging GPs and other health professionals to use an updated version of a tool to make assessments of cardiac and metabolic health of people with mental health problems and reduce death rates.

The Lester Tool is a summary poster that guides health workers in assessing the cardiometabolic health of people experiencing psychosis and schizophrenia, enabling staff to improve the physical health of mentally ill people.

It was named after Birmingham GP Dr Helen Lester, who co-adapted the tool in 2012 from an Australian template but sadly died last year.

Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England’s national clinical director for mental health, said: ‘It is our hope that by publishing this resource, 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.’

This follows mental health experts voicing their concerns that annual physical health checks were dropped from serious mental illness QOF indicators in this year’s GP contract.

Members of the NICE QOF advisory board last week repeated their calls for the reintroduction of indicators on vascular risk factors in people with severe mental illness.

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