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More choice and 24hr care to improve services

24 January 2014

Phone therapyWest London Mental Health NHS Trust is expanding choice and 24/7 care for people with mental health problems in line with recommendations made by the government announced earlier in the week.

Earlier this week, deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said: “All too often, attitudes to mental health are stuck in the dark ages; full of stigma and stereotypes.  It’s time for us to bring mental health out of the shadows and to give people with mental health conditions the support they need and deserve.”

The plan, called ‘Closing the gap: priorities for essential change in mental health’, sets out 25 key areas to ensure those with mental health problems have access to the highest possible standards of care, treatment and support, closer to their homes.

It heralds a push for parity of esteem, bringing the standard of mental health services to the same level as that of physical health.  A major step forward in achieving this will be giving mental health patients and their carers more control over their care and to be able to choose where they wish to receive their treatment.

Poor mental health is associated with an increased risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.  At Broadmoor Hospital and within forensic services, the trust’s clinicians strive to improve the physical health of people with serious and enduring mental health problems.  They use a full range of therapeutic treatments, tailored to each patient’s individual needs, including assessment, specialist care and rehabilitation, sometimes applying a combination of medication and psychological therapies.

The trust brings in dietitians, dentists, physiotherapists, surgeons, pain specialists, cardiologists and podiatrists – all of whom ensure our patients have access to the highest standards of appropriate physical health care services that meet their needs.  As a consequence of this approach, the trust can demonstrate the same physical health outcomes as would be achieved in the community.

Steve Shrubb, chief executive, said: “We have been at the forefront of this change towards offering patients greater choice for some time.  This includes our work with commissioning partners and voluntary sector groups to develop electronic referral access to GPs and community based recovery services, so people can be treated closer to their homes.  Such services complement existing hospital based services and offer local people greater choice and control of their treatment plan.”

West London Mental Health NHS Trust has also introduced a 24/7 telephone support line for people experiencing a mental health crisis.  Mr Shrubb added: “This facility offers local people receiving a community service from us access to specialist mental health support 24/7.  The service is provided by trained clinical staff and is, in many cases, enabling callers in mental health crisis avoid the need to attend A&E or contact their GP out of hours.  Last month, our clinicians supported 4,200 local callers.”