Healthcare Commission: mental health teams can improve user links

Mental health crisis teams could communicate more effectively and improve relationships with service users, a report by the Healthcare Commission said today. Its analysis of more than 10,000 complaints from NHS patients in England from July 2006-August 2007 identified a number from people who did not know who to contact in the event of a relapse into illness.

It also found that crisis intervention staff simply referred service users back to their GP the next day, while others relied on telephone assessments, resulting in “poor clinical conclusions”. Crisis teams consist of psychiatric nurses, social workers and support staff who provide emergency out-of-hours cover for mental health service users..

Room for improvement

Steve Shrubb, director of the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network, said the report showed there was room for improvement in some crisis teams’ communication strategies.
“In some cases there’s a mismatch about the expectations of service users and what the crisis teams have been commissioned to offer,” he said.

The Healthcare Commission report also revealed a need for better consultation with service users with severe mental illnesses and their families in developing care plans, under the care programme approach (CPA).

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