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Physical Health Conference 2021

10 Nov 21

Did you know…

  • People with a learning disability die over 20 years earlier on average than those in the general population. Most often they die of preventable causes, such as infections, sepsis and cancer?
  • People with serious mental illness die 15 – 20 years earlier on average than those in the general population due to physical health causes arising from health inequalities?

On 2 November we proudly hosted our annual physical health conference where we spent the day addressing the issues that affect and impact this important aspect of our service users’ care.

It is widely recognised and acknowledged that those who have mental health needs and / or learning disabilities often don’t have their physical health requirements adequately met. The Trust is committed to helping people of all ages live their lives to their full potential by supporting them to keep mentally and physically well, and our vision is to lead a generational shift in the physical health of our service users.

The physical health conference was designed to inspire and inform our frontline staff to:

  • Recognise and respond to the acutely deteriorating service user
  • Optimise service users’ health and prevent illness
  • Manage long term conditions well
  • Ensure the distinct physical health needs of people with learning disabilities are understood and met

The physical health conference, opened by Dr Jo Farrow, Deputy Medical Director, and chaired by Anne Hunt, Interim Deputy Director of Nursing and Partnerships, in collaboration with a wide range of contributing speakers, was attended by 60 guests and arranged into four separate specialist workshops plus two core updates:

  • Core updates

Dr Peter Simmons (Mortality Governance Team)

Dr Vimal Tiwari (Medical Education)

  • Recognising and responding to the deteriorating patient:  

Ayo Ayeni (Physical Health Nurse)

Anne Hunt (Deputy Director of Nursing & Partnerships)

Kate Berresford (AKI Educator, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust)

Chris Bates (Senior Practitioner, Specialist Harm Reduction Lead, CGL)

  • Managing long-term conditions:

Dr Rakesh Magon (Consultant Psychiatrist & Deputy Medical Director)

Dr Kamalika Mukherji (Consultant Psychiatrist)

Rowena Stone (Team Leader/Physical Health Team SMI)

Zoe Jayne (Community Heart Failure Specialist Nurse, CLCH)

Sarah Lewis (Senior Respiratory Clinical Specialist Nurse, ENHT)

Anne Hunt (Interim Deputy Director of Nursing & Partnerships)

  • Optimising health and preventing illness:

Sarah Hope (STaR Worker, PATH East & North)

Sally Fovargue (Advanced Practitioner Dietician)

Fern Dudleston (Highly Specialist Learning Disability Dietitian & Team Lead, Bucks CLDT)

Una Monaghan (Clinical Director Special Care Dental Service/Acting Deputy Medical

Director/Clinical Lead for Learning disability and Autism, HCT)

Hannah Twyford (Head Physiotherapist, Mental Health Services for Older People- Inpatient Services)

Sadie Walden and Rhys Ratcliffe (Healthy Lifestyles Project Officers, Watford FC)

  • Physical health needs of people with Learning Disabilities

Lucy Douglas (Speech and Language Therapist, Bucks Community Learning Disability Team)

Dr Kamalika Mukherji (Consultant Psychiatrist)

Anne Hunt (Interim Deputy Director of Nursing & Partnerships)

Una Monaghan (Clinical Director Special Care Dental Service/Acting Deputy Medical

Director/Clinical Lead for Learning disability and Autism, HCT)

Sarah Lewis (Senior Respiratory Clinical Specialist Nurse, ENHT)


HPFT has long championed supporting the physical care needs of service users, having recently opened a specialist clinic in Colchester as part of the Essex Learning Disability Partnership. The clinic, whose sole aim is to focus on keeping people with Learning Disabilities physically healthy and improving their health outcomes, was developed by Dr Indermeet Sawhney, a Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Director of LD services for Essex Learning Disabilities Partnership.

Since May this year, more than 90 service users have been reviewed in this new physical health clinic, and some of the many examples of unmet physical health needs and the interventions identified and carried out, include:

  • Heart conditions and a suspected breast cancer were identified
  • Support for service users to overcome fears around having diagnostic tests, including blood samples, ECGs and cervical screening
  • Enabling reasonable adjustments by providing home visits for service users who cannot attend the clinic
  • Introduction of personalised care planning for individual service users – checking that action plans to improve health and lifestyle are working in each case
  • Helping service users, families and carers to feel listened to and involved in ongoing care planning

For more information about the physical health clinic and how you can make a referral, please get in touch with the Essex Learning Disability Partnership here.


To add to the success of our physical health conference, we were also delighted to welcome to the event Professor the Baroness Sheila Hollins, Founder and Chair of Books Beyond Words. Books Beyond Words are award-winning wordless picture stories specifically geared towards people who find pictures easier to understand than words, to support them to understand a wide range of topics including physical and mental health, lifestyle and relationships, abuse and trauma, grief and bereavement, employment, and criminal justice.

These books are a fantastic visual resource that help to facilitate difficult conversations between those with communication difficulties and their carers / support services. The Trust has a strategic relationship with Books Beyond Words and are currently collaborating on some COVID-related book titles and research. For more information about Books Beyond Words, please visit here.

After a rousing closing speech by Prof Asif Zia, Anne Hunt, Interim Deputy Director of Nursing & Partnerships, said:

“The NHS long term plan prioritises addressing preventable causes of death. At HPFT, we are absolutely committed to making a difference, reducing health inequalities and improving the physical health of a generation of people with Learning Disabilities and people with severe Mental Illness.”

Next year’s physical health conference will take place in May 2022 (date tbc).






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