dolly sudLeicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) is pioneering an electronic register that could improve the long-term physical health prospects of mental health patients.

The Leicestershire Physical Health Register (LPHR) has been developed by a team from LPT - specialist mental health pharmacist Dolly Sud, consultant psychiatrist Dr Manjunath Minajagi and consultant pathologist Dr James Falconer Smith.

Sud said: “If we are able to identify these key issues earlier we can make real positive steps to improve the physical health prospects of patients. Regular health monitoring is vital and numerous audits have highlighted the need to address the low national rates of monitoring.

“Our model is not rocket science but we have designed it to overcome lot of the barriers that prevent regular monitoring. It is based on the model devised by Dr Falconer Smith to develop a lithium register. The potential positive impact could be significant, in terms of improving the physical health of people with mental ill health, and in reducing the long-term costs of treatment.”

They have spent the last three years developing a system to ensure closer physical health monitoring of people who are prescribed anti-psychotic drugs for conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

People with these conditions are known to be at higher risk of potentially life-limiting conditions associated with obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and dyslipidaemia (abnormal amounts of cholesterol and/or certain types of fat in the blood).

These risks can be reduced with regular monitoring and early intervention – NICE guidance recommends blood tests and electro-cardiograph (ECG) tests at least annually. However, audits* show that nationally, levels of regular monitoring are low - an overall average of just 34%.

In January LPT will launch a one-year pilot, using the register with mental healthcare professionals across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland for people who are newly prescribed anti-psychotic treatment. Patients will be able to opt-in to the register and will be able to choose where they prefer to attend for their checks – through the GP or hospital. They can opt out at any time.

Once a patient is referred and registered on the database baseline, three monthly and annual monitoring reminders will be triggered to instigate blood and ECG checks. These are sent to the GP, patient and consultant. The system triggers reminders for patients who don’t have their monitoring done. If results come back indicating an increased risk, their consultant is alerted.

Dr Peter Miller, chief executive at LPT, said: “Dolly and the project team are to be congratulated on their initiative in developing this new model. If successful, this simple but innovative database system could have a significant positive impact on the future physical health and wellbeing of people with mental ill health, not just here in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland but nationally.