How can we help Emergency Departments better prepare for the arrival of patients with acute mental health problems?

New CLAHRC research offers the NHS a great opportunity to better support patients with mental health issues arriving at Emergency Departments.

Consultant public health physician and clinical academic Dr Helen Barratt has used NHS data to describe the population of patients who attend Emergency Departments in England, including their sociodemographic characteristics. As part of the first national study of Emergency Department mental health attendances, Dr Barratt analysed over 6 million adult visits at 97 English hospital Trusts between April 2013 and March 2014.

The data will be invaluable to the NHS in estimating the demand for liaison psychiatry services, and resourcing A & E departments to deal with patients presenting with mental health issues in what is already a stressful environment.

This work is timely as recently new NHS Access standards for emergency mental health care have been proposed – obliging Trusts to strengthen the availability of care ‘out of hours’ and the provision of resources for individuals requiring admission.

“Those coming to A&E will receive a response from a 24/7 liaison psychiatry team (or equivalent children’s and young people’s service) within the first hour of their referral, and will receive the appropriate, timely support to meet their needs and an evidence-based package of care.”
Clinically-led Review of NHS Access Standards Interim Report from the NHS National Medical Director

You can see the key figures in a presentation Helen put together below