Today the Open Public Services Network (OPSN), working with ZPB, launches a new website presenting information about the treatment of people with serious mental health conditions in each local area at the Royal Society of Arts. We have found that nearly one in four areas of England has unacceptably high rates of early deaths among people with mental health problems.
Poor mental health is one of the biggest challenges facing our society today. The social and financial costs of poor mental health are substantial, with wide-ranging consequences for the economy, physical health outcomes and wider social problems. Despite this, mental health has yet to reach parity of esteem with physical health in this country.
The recent push for transparency in public services has seen the Department of Health at the forefront of improving access and accessibility to NHS data to support patients’ choice and control over their care. Sites such as NHS Choices and My NHS allow people to access information about local services, empowering them to make decisions about their care. Yet, information about mental health services is underprovided and often not useful to patients or their families.
This lack of accessible information about mental health services is why the OPSN chose to pursue this project, funded by the Cabinet Office, to explore how public data about mental health services could be turned into useful public information for people who use those services.
Commenting on the new analysis of data, Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP, Minister of State for Community and Social Care said:
“It’s really important that people with mental health conditions get access to the services they need to look after their physical health and help them to live longer, healthier lives. This site is a good example that will help ensure our NHS has high quality services across the country and inform our thinking of how to measure mental healthcare in our new CCG scorecard.”
In the report, Getting the message on mental health: From public data to public information – Exploring how available NHS data can be used to show the inequality gap in mental healthcare, published today, the OPSN presents its findings after analysing publically available NHS data, which uncovered that people with a serious mental illness (SMI) are 2.4 times more likely to die than the general population because their GP may not be referring them for vital health checks such as cholesterol, blood pressure or a cervical screening.
Living a long life? is a web-based tool designed to raise awareness of the impact of mental health on physical health and to provide service users with a platform to assess the quality of their local services in comparison to other areas.
The launch event included a live demonstration of the website and a panel discussion about physical health care for people with mental health conditions, discussing how transparency can be used to improve health services more generally.
The panel included Roger Taylor, Chair of the OPSN, Geraldine Strathdee, Clinical Director for Mental Health at NHS England, Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind and Kate Dale, Mental/Physical Health Project Lead, Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust.