Physical checks for people suffering serious mental illness sees Covid-19 downturn

Staff working at Norfolk and Waveneys five Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are being given the

Physical check ups for people with serious mental illness have fallen across Suffolk and north east Essex. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The number of physical checks on people with serious mental illnesses across Suffolk and North Essex has dropped amid the coronavirus pandemic.

All of Suffolk's clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) saw a downturn in checks in the second quarter of 2020 due to the pandemic. 

GPs aim to conduct a full physical test for anyone who suffers from a serious mental illness (SMI) every year to check for any adverse health issues. 

The national target for these "important" checks is for 60% of patients to been seen by a medical professional once a year. 

However, in the 12 months up to the end of the second quarter of 2020, only 39.5% SMI patients received a check in Ipswich and East Suffolk. 

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In West Suffolk, 21.5% of patients were checked and in North East Essex, the number was 19%. 

All three regions saw a downturn throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.

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A spokesman for NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk, NHS West Suffolk and NHS North East Essex clinical commissioning groups, said: “The CCGs are committed to reducing the level of premature mortality among those people living with a severe mental illness, which is often due to preventable or treatable physical health problems.

“Having a regular physical health check is one important way of addressing any adverse health issues.

“Yet, we know that Covid-19 has had a big impact on the number of health checks that have been carried out this year, as services have been restricted or staff redeployed to help tackle the pandemic.

“We are working closely with GP practices and our partners  to increase the number of health checks taking place, including offering virtual appointments and anticipate an increase in numbers soon.”

West Suffolk saw the biggest fall in the number of checks, dropping by a third from 32.1% to 21.5%. 

Ipswich and East Suffolk also fell the the lowest point since statistics were recorded at the start on 2019. 

In north east Essex, the percentage of SMI patients that had receive a physical check in 12 months up to the end of the second quarter in 2019 was 45.3%. 

This year, it has dropped to 19.5%.


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