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Developing the mental health workforce to meet the physical health needs of people with a serious mental illness
  1. Chris Attoe1,
  2. Stephanie Retter2,
  3. Rosy Minster3,
  4. Sandra Parish3
  1. 1Maudsley Learning, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  2. 2Institute of Psychiatry Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK
  3. 3Maudsley Simulation, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Chris Attoe, Maudsley Learning, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK; chris.attoe{at}

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As the interaction between physical and mental health becomes more established, the importance of integrating physical and mental healthcare is increasing. Physical illnesses have been found to cause two in three deaths in people with a serious mental illness (SMI), such as schizophrenia, highlighting the considerable need for more integrated care.1 Moreover, UK-based data have found that a diagnosis of a SMI is linked to a reduced life expectancy of up to 18 years,2 mainly due to physical health conditions.3 Current research has shown that the mortality gap between individuals with a SMI and the general population is widening4; therefore, immediate action is critical to reverse this.

As UK-based healthcare services pivot towards community-based care, this setting must be targeted to improve the physical health of people with SMI. All healthcare professionals, particularly within mental health services, must understand the importance of physical health in SMI alongside how to monitor and interpret changes in physical health. Furthermore, mental health professionals should feel confident to offer advice and support regarding physical health, to encourage preventative rather than reactive measures. A workforce development programme including both awareness and skills training may be required to support professionals to make these changes in practice, with simulation training a well-placed educational tool. This project aimed to design, deliver and evaluate the impact of a multi-session training programme to promote the skills of mental healthcare professionals in providing …

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  • Contributors All authors contributed equally to this manuscript, inputting at varying stages to the conception, data collection, analysis and writing up of this work. SP, RM and CA contributed to the project conception, SR lead on the writing of the manuscript with support from RM as well as SP and CA.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Psychiatry, Nursing and Midwifery Research Ethics Subcommittee at King’s College London on behalf of the National Research Ethics Board (at the time of approval) - approval number, PNM 1314/173.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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