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Mental patients dying too young say doctors

People with mental illnesses and intellectual disabilities are dying early because the NHS is failing to address their needs, the doctors' union has warned.

Urgent action is needed to ensure equal value is placed on both the mental and physical health of patients in the face of "distressing" evidence about the life expectancy of the mentally ill and people with learning disabilities, a report by the British Medical Association (BMA) board of science has said.

The physical health problems of patients with a mental illness or intellectual disability are all too often under-addressed, the report said. It adds that the mental health of patients with a physical illness is frequently neglected.

Intellectual disability, mental health and physical health care should be better integrated in the health service with the creation of a liaison physician in psychiatric wards to support the physical health needs of patients, according to the report.

There should also be improved training for trainees and doctors in how to deal with people with mental illness, and people with an intellectual disability, it recommended.

The call has been led by Baroness Sheila Hollins, chairman of the board. She said: "It is deeply concerning that mental health in the UK is not universally held in the same regard as patients' physical health, nor does it receive comparable levels of funding."

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