'Patients with schizophrenia need more care'

GPs have been urged to take more responsibility for the physical health of patients with schizophrenia.

Metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors must be monitored in these patients, say a collection of advocacy groups including the National Obesity Forum (NOF) and mental health charity SANE.

Weight gain is a multi-pronged problem in schizophrenia. As well as cardiovascular health, there are concerns that some patients discontinue antipsychotic drugs when they put on weight.

Although the management of severe psychiatric care should continue to be the preserve of specialist services, GPs should be getting more involved with day-to-day management of these patients, say the charities.

Under the mental health domain in the quality framework, GPs get 23 points for giving patients with schizophrenia health promotion and prevention advice depending on their health status.

But in the manifesto developed by the advocacy groups, GPs are urged to embrace this role ‘enthusiastically’. It called on GPs to set up screening systems to identify and manage metabolic and cardiovascular risks.

This could even lead to referring a patient back to secondary care for a review of their antipsychotic medication.

rachel.liddle@haymarket.com

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