Charities and mental health managers have welcomed new commissioning guidance designed to improve the physical health of people with mental health problems. But they have warned of the ?huge task ahead?.

Charities and mental health managers have welcomed new commissioning guidance designed to improve the physical health of people with mental health problems. But they have warned of the ?huge task ahead?.

The new commissioning framework cites 1.7 million health records showing that people with schizophrenia are more than twice as likely to have diabetes.

Many people with schizophrenia have multiple risk factors for diabetes. And they are also more likely to experience ischaemic heart disease, stroke, hypertension and epilepsy.

It sets out best practice proposals for primary care trusts to design, commission and monitor physical health services.

The guidance was welcomed by Manchester joint commissioning team associate head Janet Finucane. ?The increased incidence of diabetes in patients with schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder highlights the need for primary care services to work holistically and for the reported practice of ?overshadowing? - where doctors deal only with the mental health problems to the detriment of physical care - to be made transparent.?

She was pleased that the framework offered ?stimulating ideas? from around the country. Manchester is already using Choosing Health money to provide a nurse-led service to help monitor and promote the well-being of people experiencing severe mental illness. But she warned of the ?huge task? ahead.

Rethink director of public affairs Paul Corry said improving physical health has many benefits: ?The well-being approach provides people with severe mental illness with a clear route to better identify physical health problems early and to access the activity and health programmes needed. These programmes are popular and effective and we look forward to commissioners identifying their establishment as a priority.?

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