MORE than 60 per cent of people with severe mental illnesses in the Bradford District and Craven area missed crucial health checks last year, despite being at risk of premature death.

Those with conditions like schizophrenia, psychosis or personality disorders are likely to die up to 20 years earlier than the general population, according to new NHS data.

NHS Bradford District and Craven CCG data suggests that health services are struggling to ensure those eligible undergo a comprehensive physical examination annually.

Across England last year, just over 110,500 people underwent the full check-up.

Around a fifth of those thought to have severe mental illnesses and less than half of the number needed to meet the NHS target.

There are thought to be 6,602 people eligible for the checks in the Bradford District and Craven area.

But 2,477 - 37 per cent of them - had the full examination in the year to December.

In 2019, just two trusts in England hit the health service's 60 per cent target.

To combat the problem, the health service pledged to ensure 280,000 people a year would have comprehensive physical health checks by 2021.

Stark levels of premature death for those with severe mental illnesses are linked to preventable or treatable problems such as heart and respiratory diseases, diabetes and hypertension.

Experts believe the deaths of as many as two out of three could be avoided.

The comprehensive annual check has six elements relating to the monitoring of alcohol consumption, smoking, blood pressure, body mass index, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

The NHS and mental health charity Mind are urging people to attend their checks, suggesting that the impact of Covid-19 has underlined the importance of ensuring those with mental health problems can access support to manage their physical well-being.

Stephen Buckley, head of information at Mind, urged eligible people to attend their annual checks.

He said side effects of medication, underlying health conditions and social factors such as housing, employment and financial inequality could have an impact on health.

An NHS spokeswoman said almost £1bn was being invested in an effort to improve community mental health services by 2023/24.

While Bradford district and Craven's CCG said: "Our GP practices are very much still here to help.

"They are working hard to reassure people that GP services are open and it is safe to attend for an appointment, such as an annual health check, if they have been invited to do so.

"With our GP practices we have increased proactive work with our communities and voluntary sector mental health and wellbeing providers, to highlight the importance of health checks and support people to attend these vital appointments.

"We are sharing best practice and guidance with staff that carry out annual health checks, as well as holding additional clinics to ensure that those who are the most vulnerable get the care and support they need at this difficult time."