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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Clinical networks & quality

Tuesday, 31 July

So far so good with my travlling to and across London. And what a first few days it has been at the Olympics – I’ve been taking the opportunity to watch as much as I can.

Gradually, the reality of how services will be commissioned, and where mental health will sit within this, is unfolding. So what will some of the key determining factors be?

A few days ago, the NHS Commissioning Board published a new document called The Way Forward: Strategic Clinical Networks, in which it sets out its plan for a small number of national networks to improve health services for specific patient groups or conditions. The report describes clinical networks as “and NHS success story” and states that they want to build on their success which states that they want to build on the success of networks.  The first strategic clinical networks will be established and supported from 2013. These are: cancer; cardiovascular disease (incorporating cardiac, stroke, diabetes and renal disease); maternity and children; and mental health, dementia and neurological conditions.

So there will be lots of opportunities to work in partnership with the rest of medicine, and play a pivotal role in the children and maternity clinical network – given the strength of the evidence-base in mental health for prevention.

The real challenge for us will be improving the physical of our service users. With that in mind, watch out for a new book on this issue from RCPsych Publications, due out in September/October. I know that Essentials of Physical Health in Psychiatry, edited by psychiatrist Irene Cormac and physician David Gray, will be a must read.

Also out this week was a good paper from the King’s Fund, Preparing for the Francis Report: How to assure quality in the NHS. With the Public Inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust due to report in the autumn, this is a very timely paper exploring how the system of quality assurance including regulation needs to evolve.

It is important that we make sure that all parts of the College are working together on quality, and that we read across to each other so that our messages and actions are clear, consistent and sustainable. As leaders in mental health, we have to have a cohesive vision and action plan that can play out at all levels, and across all transitions. That means involving every members across their roles in their own services, and the roles they play within the College. At the heart of this is being able to speak out when things are wrong, and being heard when we have good ideas about improving services.


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