Royal College of Psychiatrists: Demand, Capacity and Flow QI Collaborative

NELFT Quality Improvement Services are currently supporting four teams from NELFT in taking part in a quality improvement collaborative set up by the Royal College of Psychiatrists on Demand, Capacity and Flow within mental health services. On this page you will be able to follow our contribution to and journey within the collaborative, hopefully being able to learn from the work undertaken and even apply it to your service where appropriate.

For service specific support please contact us.

Collaborative Overview

About the Collaborative

The National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health at the Royal College of Psychiatrists have launched a new 18-month Quality Improvement (QI) Collaborative focusing on Demand, Capacity and Flow in Mental Health Services across the UK.

The collaborative is overseen by national improvement lead, Dr Amar Shah, director of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, Tom Ayers, and supported by an experienced team of QI coaches.

The collaborative aims to: 

  • "to support community and inpatient teams within mental health services to understand demand, develop and test change ideas to improve flow, reduce waiting lists and manage demand in creative ways. 

  • provide opportunities for peer-to-peer sharing and learning through regular in-person events." 


To find out more about the collaborative click here: Demand, Capacity and Flow QI Collaborative | Royal College of Psychiatrists ( 


About NELFT's Participation

Four teams from NELFT will be taking part in this 18-month mental health services collaborative programme, each with the support of a member of the Quality Improvement Services to provide additional bespoke support alongside the Quality Improvement Coaches provided by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.


The teams from NELFT are:

  1. Adult Autism Services (supported by Patrick Onyema, Advanced Quality Improvement Practitioner, NELFT)
  2. Havering Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (supported by Kelly Anderson, Advanced Quality Improvement Practitioner, NELFT)
  3. Havering Mental Health and Wellness (supported by Clare Linger, Quality Improvement Learning and Support Lead, NELFT)
  4. Waltham Forest Single Point of Access (supported by Roisin McGuill, Advanced Quality Improvement Practitioner, NELFT)


How can your team learn from this?

Demand, capacity and flow are issues that many teams across NELFT and the wider NHS are currently facing. As such, we want to ensure that as many teams as possible are able to learn from this collaborative. We will be documenting our experiences and learnings through the 18 month period and sharing this on this page.



Learning Days

Launch Day

23rd January 2023: Royal College of Psychiatrists, London

Day consisted of:

  • Welcomes, introductions and a fun ice-breaker game to help all teams within the collaborative get to know one another.
  • Demand, capacit and flow through a patient, family and equality lens:
    • Consisted of an engaging team game about demand, capacity and flow using toy soldiers and dice to move through a fictional patient pathway. 
  • Understanding demand and capacity, and why it is important to optimize patient flow.
    • This was a workshop hosted by Dr Amar Shah.
  • Presentation from Hackney Integrated Learning Dissabiliy Service, East London Foundation Trust:
    • How they used quality improvement to address demand, capacity and flow, and had improved access in their Hackney Learning Disability Service.
    • This allowed teams to learn from previous experiences and celebrate success, motivating them on the start of our collaborative journey.
  • Meeting Quality Improvement Coaches and discussing next steps:
    • During this time the teams took the first step at trying to understand their service's challenges and understand the problems that impact on the service user pathway by starting a high level process mapping activity.
    • This activity focussed on looking at the pathway from referral to discharge, and looking what happens at each of these stages. 


Learnings from the day:

As the day was focused on the launch of the quality improvement project learnings were based around what it takes to establish a project team:

  • A quality improvement project is not owned by the project lead, but is instead a team project in which all stakeholders need to be involved in some way.
  • In terms of the collaborative, each team has a project lead, but could also bring along members of their team to learn from each learning event.
  • Therefore a question we addressed and explored on the launch day was around how to develop a project team, and which stakeholders need to be involved in which conversations and reflections on whether there were any additional stakeholders that might benefit being present at the next learning day to truly reflect the full scope of the project.


Photos from the day:

photo of team

Barking and Dagenham Adult Autism

photo of team

Havering Children and Adolescents Mental Health

photo of team

Havering Mental Health and Wellness

photo of team

Waltham Forest Single Point of Access


Blog Posts

Below you will find links to all our blog posts and news articles written about the collaborative:

  1. Launch day article (hyperlinked)  
  2. Article image