Only a quarter of Morecambe Bay residents with severe mental illnesses attended crucial health checks last year.

According to NHS data, there are estimated to be 3,334 eligible for check-ups in the Morecambe Bay area.

The figures show that only 25 per cent of them attended potentially life-saving check-ups in 2020 – with the data covering 98 per cent of patients.

This was down from the 2019 figure of 28 per cent.

The target for CCGs in England is 60 per cent, with none reaching the figure in 2020.

Dr Jim Hacking, local GP and Executive Lead for Mental Health at Morecambe Bay CCG, said: “The data that has been published doesn’t include any information from the final quarter of the year, so until we have the full dataset we aren’t able to make any direct comparisons to last year. SMI checks require face to face examination and over the last 12 months there may have been some patients that have chosen not to attend due to concerns about COVID-19. It is important to remember that GP practices have worked hard to ensure that you are as safe as possible if you do need to make a visit to the practice. We are also working on a new Community Mental Health transformation programme that will put more resources into communities and one of the aims of the programme will be to improve access to SMI checks.”

The annual check-up is offered to people suffering with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, as they are more likely to die up to 20 years earlier than the general population, says the NHS.

There are six elements to the check-up, including blood sugar, alcohol consumption and body mass index.