A project to improve the physical health care of patients with severe mental illness in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland has been shortlisted in Britain’s most prestigious healthcare awards.

It is hoped it could improve the quality of life, and length of life, for hundreds of patients.

The project from Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust is one of five in the final of the Mental Health Team section of the BMJ Awards.

Patients with severe mental illness are likely to die up to 20 years earlier than the population as a whole. They are at risk of a number of physical health conditions, such as being up to three times more likely to have a heart condition.

The introduction of this initiative has improved the consistency and support for physical health risk factors – smoking, high blood pressure, being overweight or obese, and so on.

Over five years, a multidisciplinary team increased the screening rate for patients in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland from 26 per cent to 96 per cent.

Dolly Sud, senior mental health pharmacist for Leicestershire Partnership Trust, led the team. She said: “This is an important but neglected area of healthcare, and I am delighted our Trust is being proactive in it.

“This work is now core business for us and this service could easily be implemented in any mental health trust.

“I am convinced this has made a material difference to the health of this group of patients, published data suggests that improving care in this area could result in cost savings of £100,000 across health services.

“Even to get shortlisted by the BMJ is an honour.”

The results of the awards will be announced at an online ceremony on Wednesday 29 September.