A HEALTH centre which treats people with severe mental health problems has been earmarked as a centre of excellence, one of only two nationally.

An audit by the Royal College of Psychiatrists has found ‘significant failures’ in care for people living with schizophrenia across the country.

But Lancashire Care Foundation Trust has been identified as one of the best in the country. The Lancashire Early Intervention Service specialises in working with patients aged 14 to 35 who have had their first psychotic episode.

The service, based in Accrington, which also has sites in Chorley and Blackpool, has secured £150,000 from the Department for Health to help expand its service, and share its best practice with other trusts nationally.

Dr Warren Larkin, clinical director at the trust, said: “People with schizophrenia have a 10 to 20-year shorter lifespan, mainly due to physical health. When they start to take anti-psychotic drugs, they can put on weight, and they can result in higher blood pressure and diabetes.

“It’s important to check and monitor the client’s physical, as well as mental health – and that is something we have been recognised as doing well.

“There is also a real variety of care in psychological therapies.

“These therapies may include things like counselling – to help them cope better with their paranoia and voices, and give them more control. These help to reduce relapses, symptoms, and money for the NHS.

“It’s the innovation, efficiency and effectiveness that we have been recognised for.”

He said the Early Intervention Centre model can save as much as £16,000 per patient over a three-year period compared to current community care. “People are not relapsing as much, their symptoms are reduced, they are able to get back into employment, or education, and lead a meaningful everyday life.”