Paul JenkinsNHS England has announced that tackling the poor physical health of those with mental illness is one of their top four priorities and revealed that they will receive financial rewards as an incentive.

Side effects of medication, high rates of smoking, lack of basic health checks and professionals not taking the concerns of people with mental illness seriously all put people with severe mental illness at an increased risk of illness.

Charity Rethink Mental Illness’ recent report, Lethal Discrimination, revealed that thousands of mental health patients are dying needlessly every year because of poor physical health due to NHS faults. Rethink Mental Illness’ CEO, Paul Jenkins, described this as “one of the biggest hidden health scandals of our time.”

The four areas of care, which also include dementia, are a key way in which the NHS will be pushed to make improvements in care, with 2.5% of Trusts’ income dependent on them meeting targets in these areas. They will also need to make things change in order to secure their full annual budgets.

“We recently highlighted how 30,000 people with mental health problems are dying needlessly every year in England, due to preventable physical illness,” Jenkins said.

“To see it prioritised in this way is a significant step forward. While there are some pockets of good practice in the system, most people with mental illness are being badly let down.

“By creating financial incentives we expect millions more to be spent on tackling the problem, which will mean improved health for thousands of people with mental illnesses like schizophrenia.”