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Trust leading the way to improve patient access to mental health services

10 Apr 2014

West London Mental Health NHS Trust is developing ways to give patients increased choice about where to receive their care and treatment.

Up until now, people who needed mental health services were not able to make the same choices about their care and treatment as those who use other health services.  However, patients referred to a consultant or specialist as an outpatient for mental health services, are now able to choose any provider across England which offers a specialist service.

The system, known as Choose and Book, allows referrers to support their patients in choosing a clinically appropriate provider for their mental health services.  It also enables referring clinicians to send referral information electronically to that chosen provider, and to book an appointment for the patient.

West London Mental Health NHS Trust has been at the forefront of this initiative and was one of the first mental health trusts across England to implement Choose and Book, working with the national team to design a suitable referral model.

Dr Nick Broughton, the trust’s medical director, explained: “We want our service users and their carers to have easy access to the best possible services that meet their needs at a time that is most convenient with them.  We have been working with our GP commissioning partners across Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham and Hounslow to look out how we can improve our referrals processes and increase choice of mental health services.

“We know that Choose and Book is already well established in primary care and acute settings as an effective means of referral to outpatient services.  However we now want to ensure that mental health patients who are referred to a consultant or outpatient service have the same opportunity.”

Currently within the trust, GP referrals are processed manually meaning that paper copies are sometimes faxed to a central referrals system.  Nick added: “This is cumbersome, slow and can result in patients being given an appointment that does not suit them.”

Dr Stephen Miller, GP and medical director for Choose and Book, said: “We consider West London Mental Health NHS Trust to be well ahead using Choose and Book for mental health patients.  They have proven this can be an extremely effective mechanism for making routine referrals into their services.”

For more information, contact Simon Morgan, external communications manager: 020 8354 8325 / simon.morgan@wlmht.nhs.uk

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