Commissioning liaison psychiatry services

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Matt Fossey and Lauren Godier-McBard

5 February 2020

Liaison psychiatry services offer specialist mental health expertise within general hospitals. Recent Government policy has committed to ensuring that all hospitals in England with an emergency department also have a liaison psychiatry service.

The research in this report sought to identify the challenges faced by commissioners of liaison psychiatry services, and to see if these challenges were shared by hospital managers and mental health clinicians working within the services.

Commissioning liaison psychiatry services identifies four key issues facing commissioners:

  • It was felt that liaison services were subject to more tightly defined national frameworks than previously, which could limit their flexibility to respond to local needs
  • Liaison services were not always well connected with other mental health services
  • The creation of Integrated Care Systems provides an opportunity for joint commissioning of liaison services which could help to improve their consistency and connectedness
  • It was felt that there was insufficient data about activities or outcomes of liaison services, which made it more difficult to implement improvements

The report outlines a number of recommendations, including calls for acute hospitals to take a thorough audit of all mental health provision, and to adopt the outcome measurement framework proposed by Royal College of Psychiatrists.

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