Psychiatrists and psychologists have been directly recruited to specialist acute teams at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as part of an integrated psychological medical service.
It was launched by the trust in 2013, and is led by University of Oxford professor of psychological medicine Michael Sharpe.
Starting with palliative care, general medicine and geratology, the service now has staff integrated into many of the trust’s high-need acute units.
So far, 10 psychiatrists, 30 psychologists and several medical nurses with specialist mental health training have joined acute teams, caring for patients, sharing expertise, and supporting work to improve the flow of patients.
What’s been achieved is truly amazing. The psychiatrists and psychologist are fully integrated into medical teams, in contrast to traditional liaison mental health services which are only able to link separate physical and mental health services.
- Professor Michael Sharpe
Together, they are identifying patients’ mental health needs earlier, putting in place appropriate support in hospital, including helping people to prepare for radical and life-changing treatments, and liaising with community services so that help is available after people leave hospital.
Professor Sharpe, who has researched how best to integrate mental and physical care, was consulted to advise on how to improve mental health provision at the trust before being asked to lead the new fully integrated service.
“Before we started, the mental health service to the acute hospitals in Oxford had become quite limited and focused largely on patients who had self-harmed,” he said. “The clinicians and management in the acute trust wanted to develop their capability to deliver comprehensive patient care in wards and clinics and made the radical decision to set up their own trust wide integrated psychological medicine service.
“It’s fascinating to see what happens when you fully integrate mental and physical care. It cuts out all those boundary issues arising from different services with different priorities and different clinical records and allows care to be delivered around the patient’s needs.”
Read the full NHS England case study: Oxford trust delivers culture-change integrated psychological medicine.