On 1 October NELFT launched a new service supporting patients who frequently present at Accident and Emergency (A&E) with physical health concerns. The team is based at Church Road in Havering and will work into the A&E departments at Queens Hospital, Romford and King Georges Hospital, Goodmayes. The pilot has been funded by the BHR Clinical Commissioning Group.
Over the coming year the multi-disciplinary team, made up of mental health and general nurses, a physiotherapist and a support worker, will be working with people who are attending A&E frequently for physical health concerns in order to better understand their needs and support their care. The team will be using Open Dialogue principles to work with these patients and their families. The aim is to work with these patients to reduce the number of times they attend A&E and ensure they have plans in place to fully support their care needs in other settings. The pilot is hoping to reduce the reliance on A&E for the 120 patients who experience the most attendances by 30% over the year.
Open Dialogue is a model of mental health care pioneered in Finland that consistently involves a patient’s family and social network. All healthcare staff receive training in family therapy and related psychological skills. All treatment is carried out via meetings of the patient and their network together and the aim is to create a space where all voices can be heard in situations that are often fraught and anxious. By applying the principles of Open Dialogue in this physical health care setting it will enable patients and support networks to better understand their needs and look at alternatives to managing both the physical and emotional health care needs outside A&E.
Dr Russell Razzaque, consultant psychiatrist and Director of Research at NELFT said,
“This is an entirely new innovation in healthcare in this country. It's the first time that we have assembled a team to work with people who are attending A&E frequently for physical health concerns based on Open Dialogue principles. We have a great multidisciplinary team who are excited about this pilot. There’s a strong feeling that this will be the start of a major new way of supporting people in this situation across NELFT and perhaps one day further afield too.”
John Brouder, our chief executive, said,
“It was a pleasure to meet with the team on their first day of running this service. Using approaches that have proven results within our mental health services to support people who are regularly attending our local A&Es seems like a practical way of sharing good practice and improving the experience and outcomes for a group of patients who are often attending a service that is not best placed to meet their needs. I am looking forward to hearing about the success of this pilot over the coming year.”