At the beginning of February we launched our first Mental Health pilot with a Mental Health Foundation Trust. The pilot was set up specifically to deal with Adult Mental Health (so excluded young and elderly patients).
The challenges that the Trust is facing are:
- Some referrals they are receiving are considered unnecessary; and
- Referrals are sometimes mis-categorised by GPs as more urgent than they are, meaning that patients jump the queue ahead of “routine” referrals, which puts the Trust under pressure to meet time targets for seeing routine referrals.
The approach we took was to set up 2 lines for GPs to access immediate Advice and Guidance from their Trust colleagues: a General Referral Advice line (staffed by consultant psychiatrists supported by the wider non-clinical assessment team) and a Medication Advice line (staffed by consultant psychiatrists).
Results were as follows:
- Average time to answer phone: 51 seconds
- Average length of conversation with GP: 5 minutes 45 seconds
General Referral Advice Call Outcomes
- 4 Hour Emergency Referral Made: 10%
- 1 Week Urgent Referral Made: 23%
- 4 Week Routine Referral Made: 17%
- Referral Avoided: 37%
- Not applicable (eg. call made about young / elderly patients not included in the pilot): 13%
Medication Advice Call Outcomes
- Referral Made: 16%
- Advice Provided: 74%
- Not applicable (as above): 10%
Feedback from GPs
We surveyed GP users to get their feedback on the service. Their very positive views were as follows:
- 80% responded that it had a positive impact on their work
- 80% responded that patients had appreciated the input of a consultant to their care
- 80% responded that by talking to a consultant it had enhanced their knowledge in a certain area
- 90% responded that they believed it had improved integration between themselves and the Trust
- 90% responded that it had improved patient care
We also asked the question, “describe a time when use of Mental Health Connect provided a clear benefit to either yourself or the patient?”. The following are a selection of their verbatim responses:
- Able to get advice on medication and doses
- I had query regarding medication dosing; clear advice given by consultant supporting us to increase dose with benefit to patient
- It has saved a referral and I have altered medications instead on the consultant’s advice – resulting in faster better care for the patient
- Medication advice saving time for patient and meaning that patient gets quicker change in medication
- Tricky medication advice re combining antidepressants Advice re suicidal patient, diagnostic advice
- I was able to quickly speak to a consultant colleague who confirmed the management plan whilst awaiting routine appointment with the Trust
The pilot has been a success and the pilot is set to be expanded to cover other patient groups.
We would now like to invite other areas to run Mental Health Connect pilots, so if you are interested in hearing more, please get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling on 01865 261451.