People who are ill and have psychiatric disorders are not treated as effectively by doctors compared to those who have no mental health problems.

Dr Alex Mitchell, a consultant psychiatrist, and Dr Darren Malone, a specialist registrar in psychiatry, who work at the Department of Liaison Psychiatry at Leicester General Hospital, reviewed a number of studies focussing on preventative and physical care of patients with and without mental illness.

They looked at screening for cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, HIV and cervical and breast cancer and treatment for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, HIV and cancer care.

Unveiling their findings to the annual meeting, they found that of the 14 studies which looked at health screening, 12 suggested inferior quality of care. Of the 23 studies comparing care for patients with and without mental illness 14 suggested poor quality of care when it came to recommending drug treatment, diagnostic and investigative procedures and surgical interventions.

Said Dr Mitchell: "People who are mentally ill sometimes don't seek screening, but the more powerful reason is that once the medical team knows a patient has psychiatric problem, they give them poorer quality of care.

"Doctors don't like dealing with patients with psychiatric problems. They view them as different and they spend les time with them. They don't offer the patient the same intensity of investigation as the non mentally-ill patient. It's prejudicial treatment."

The Royal College Of Psychiatrists Annual Meeting
Edinburgh International Conference Centre
19-22 June 2007