Health Check Model Could Go National
A new model of health checks for people with a learning disability or mental illness in South Tyneside has been so effective that it could be rolled out nationally.
Members of the Cabinet will be told that the new model was designed by the Joint Commissioning Team - made up staff from both the Council and the NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group in collaboration with partners and local residents.
The new model was introduced to improve accessibility for around 2,000 people in South Tyneside who either have a severe mental illness or learning disability. Annual health checks are important because people with mental illness or a learning disability often find it difficult to recognise illness, describe their needs and use health services.
The new approach saw the introduction of a new physical health hub to work alongside GP surgeries where support workers, nurses and a pharmacist provide individual support. The service - which works with people with learning disabilities, autism, ADHD, severe mental illness and children over the age of 14 with special educational needs - can include weight and blood tests as well as advice on fitness, healthy eating, mental health and medication reviews.
The new model has seen the numbers of people accessing support rise significantly from just 42 per cent of people with a severe mental illness in 2019 to 67 per cent and from 47 per cent for those with a learning disability to 86 percent.
As a direct result of implementing the new model, more people with a severe mental illness in South Tyneside are accessing support than anywhere else in England while only two areas have a better access rate to health checks for people with a learning disability.
NHS England has contacted staff involved in the design of the South Tyneside model to consider if it can be rolled out nationally.
Councillor Anne Hetherington, Lead Member for Independence and Wellbeing, said: "These checks are important because they allow any health-related needs to be identified quickly. We can then provide the right treatment and support before a condition gets worse.
"By working in partnership with GP practices and by putting people at the heart of the solution we have been able to make a real difference and help people live healthier and happier livesThis is further evidence of our success in delivering on our priority to support families and our vulnerable communities."
Dr Jim Gordon, a local GP and Clinical Director at NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: "People with learning disabilities or severe mental illness often find it harder to raise concerns and get the care they need, but health checks can make sure they get the right care when they need it. Many local people are already seeing the benefit, and the team should be proud that our work in South Tyneside can now help people in other areas too."
Following the success of the scheme, an adapted offer for adults and young people with autism is to be rolled out in South Tyneside from next month.
Anyone with severe mental illness or a learning disability, or their family or carer, can contact the hub if they need their annual heath check or further support by calling 0191 451 6649 Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm or emailing SouthTynesidePCPHS@cntw.nhs.uk