In London and across the UK, people living with serious mental illness (SMI) can expect to die 15–20 years earlier than the general population. Known as the SMI mortality gap, this is one of the greatest health inequality gaps in England. This disparity in health outcomes is partly due to physical health needs being overlooked.

Smoking is the largest avoidable cause of premature death; more than 40% of adults with SMI smoke. In comparison to the general population, individuals living with SMI also have double the risk of obesity and diabetes and three times the risk of hypertension.

Addressing the SMI mortality gap is a national priority and is supported by clinical evidence, a clear economic case, and the voice of service users and carers.

The London Health Commission’s ambition is to reduce the gap in life expectancy between adults living with SMI and the rest of the population by 10% by 2024 (Better Health for London, 2014). The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health (FYFVMH) committed the NHS in England to ensuring that people living with SMI have their physical health needs met by increasing early detection and expanding access to evidence-based physical care assessment and intervention each year.

Clinical leaders from across London have worked together to identify activities and outcomes across care settings that will contribute to delivering these ambitions. Led by Mary Docherty (Clinical Advisor on Improving Physical Health Care for People with SMI, NHS England), this Stolen Years online resource has been developed by Healthy London Partnership’s Mental Health Transformation Programme.

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