Since June 2021, clinicians in Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board have had access to the Mental Health Assessment Unit (MHAU) line for emergency mental health professional-to-professional clinical advice. We spoke with Dr Ejike Peterside, a GP at Lennox Practice, to find out the benefits of this service for him and his patients.
Monthly Mental Health Assessment Unit line statistics* (average):
58 calls | calls answered in 23 seconds | 100% first-time connection rate
How did you obtain emergency mental health advice for patients before the MHAU line was made available via Consultant Connect?
‘I would access switchboard numbers for mental health trusts from their websites and phone them directly, but often I would need to leave a message for the specialist to call me back. In a lot of instances, by the time the specialist called back, I would already be in a clinic or seeing another patient, so we would keep missing each other’s calls.’
How does access to this line via Consultant Connect compare to your previous method?
‘Using the service has improved my workload because whoever answers the phone is the person I need to speak with, so it gives me direct access to discuss the patient without needing to wait in between. If the specialist who answers the phone is busy, they will state an exact time to call me back which speeds up the process considerably.’
What are the benefits of using Consultant Connect?
‘There are many things that are improved by using this service. Due to the nature of the line, a lot of queries are time-sensitive, and the patient and their family are wanting and needing a plan. The advice is detailed, I’m guided on what to do next or what can be done, and together, the specialist and I can create a management plan with the patient’s best interests at the centre.’
Are there any examples of when you’ve used the MHAU line to ensure your patient receives the correct support?
‘I recently received a call from a patient’s mum who stated that the patient was expressing suicidal thoughts, which had happened previously. Their mum was really worried, and the call came through towards the end of the day, so I needed rapid advice. I called the MHAU line via Consultant Connect and discussed the patient with the specialist, and we quickly devised a patient management plan. The specialist advised me on actions to take in the interim as well as a follow-up plan for later down the line.
As a result of this call, I was able to give the patient and their mum a definitive plan which they were happy with, and the prompt response put them at ease.’
What advice would you give to clinicians who are hesitant to use Consultant Connect?
‘I initially had reservations about using Consultant Connect because I was worried about it being difficult to use, but it’s so easy and puts you in contact quickly with specialists. I encourage clinicians with access to the service to use it! It’ll save you tonnes of time, rather than having to go through a third party on switchboard. I’ve also used the app to take patient images for a referral to Dermatology, and that was just as straightforward. It’s a very effective app, I find it really helpful.’