A new report from the Royal College of
Psychiatrists’ Centre for Quality Improvement (CCQI) shows that
psychiatric liaison services are highly valued by both the service
users they see and by their colleagues in general hospitals.
A snapshot survey found that 98% of patients
felt they were treated with support and understanding by their
liaison professional, and 92% of general hospital staff believed
their hospital’s liaison service helped improve patient
One patient said of her liaison team: “They
have been very helpful to me and their support is what has made me
a strong and positive woman today. If it was not for them I
wouldn’t know who I am and where I am heading to. I can now
cope with each and every day's life challenges in a positive way
and seek support where I need help.”
Psychiatric liaison services work with a wide
range of patients in emergency departments and hospital wards. They
may help people who are struggling to cope with long term physical
health problems, people who have self-harmed, or attend hospital
with alcohol problems, delirium, dementia and/or disturbed
In 2009, the CCQI set up the Psychiatric
Liaison Accreditation Network (PLAN) to help services share good
practice, recognise achievement and identify areas for improvement.
The new report, The
Psychiatric Liaison Accreditation Network Annual Report: Cycle 1
2009-2010, summarises the key data collected from the 17
services that took part in the first cycle of PLAN, including
feedback from psychiatric liaison professionals, general hospital
staff, and the patients and carers who use the service.
The report makes a series of recommendations
for liaison teams, including:
- Liaison teams should invest in training for all staff – not
just new staff. Service users should be invited to develop and
deliver training where possible.
- The skill mix of the team should be reviewed annually to
identify any gaps in the service.
- The transition between liaison staff and out-of-hours cover
should be made smoother.
- Guidance for colleagues working in acute medicine about what
types of cases should be referred to liaison teams should be
- Teams should share best practice with other teams.
- Service users should be consistently given the option of being
copied into correspondence with their GP and/or other
The report also draws commissioners’ attention
to the value of psychiatric liaison services and the importance of
Trusts investing in the future of such services.
Dr Paul Gill, Consultant Psychiatrist at
Sheffield Liaison Psychiatry Service and Chair of the PLAN
Accreditation Committee said: “Psychiatric liaison teams are well
placed to help hospitals to deal with rapid identification of
mental health problems, avoid unnecessary admission to in-patient
units and provide a better understanding of physical and mental
co-morbidity. By participating in the PLAN accreditation process,
member teams have been able to make valuable improvements to their
service which they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to
Of the 17 services successfully accredited by
PLAN, 5 have been rated as ‘excellent’. These top-rated services
are at: Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, Arrowe Park Hospital
in the Wirral, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, Countess
of Chester Hospital in Chester, and St Helier Hospital in
Dr Jim Bolton, Consultant Psychiatrist at St
Helier Hospital, said: “PLAN has helped my team to focus
on what is important to achieve in a high quality
service. We have made significant changes to our working as a
result. PLAN has also raised the profile of our service
amongst our managers and within the hospital."
Following the success of the first wave of the
programme, a second cycle is now underway. New members are
welcome to join the next wave of activity, which will start in the
The College of Emergency Medicine, Mind, Royal College of
Nursing and Royal College of Physicians are partners of PLAN and
continue to recognise and support the important work being carried
out by psychiatric liaison services around the UK.
For further information, please
Kathy Oxtoby or
Deborah Hart in the Communications
Telephone: 0203 701 2544 or 0203 701 2538
For more information about PLAN, including the second edition standards and the new report, visit www.rcpsych.ac.uk/plan
Note to editors:
The Psychiatric Liaison Accreditation Network (PLAN) PLAN is managed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Centre for Quality Improvement (CCQI). The programme is open to new members and is funded by members’ subscription fees, which cost £2900 + VAT. Discounts are available for longer-term sign up.