An audit of mental health patients carried out by Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust in August 2019 found that more than half of the people who went to emergency departments (EDs) for help because of their mental health waited more than four hours to get the right care. One in seven spent more than 12 hours in ED, exposing patients, NHS staff and visitors to additional stress. This figure is probably far greater now.
The project involves collaborative working between the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, to improve the collaboration and partnership between mental health departments and ED teams. The new area will allow mental health patients to receive higher quality care by providing them with a specialised area for their specific needs, staffed by specialist nurses from Oxleas.
The new Mental Health Assessment Area (MHAA) at QEH will offer the local population a suitable and safe environment for patients who present in crisis, in which to be assessed and treated whilst awaiting next steps in their care pathway or whilst awaiting transfer into a clinically appropriate environment. This will give a better patient experience by removing patients from the overly stimulating ED environment and by allowing patients to access therapeutic intervention.
The presentation will focus on the collaboration and partnership of the MH and EDs teams and in specific on two of the biggest challenges which were:
• To find and agree on a location within the existing and busy hospital to host the new MHAA, considering the importance of the relationship with the EDs and mental health teams, and
• The consultation with all the different groups of stakeholders to build strong ERs and to deliver a mental health friendly and functional environment which can work for all the stakeholders.