The College has produced guidance to help members when writing letters to patients.
Why issue this guidance?
Historically, psychiatric patients have not consistently and routinely been sent a letter following an out-patient appointment.
The College’s position is that:
- patients should always receive a copy of a letter (whether it is written directly to the patient and copied to the GP, or vice versa), unless they specifically decline to receive one.
- consultants need to be mindful and think very carefully about the fact that the patient will be reading the letter and consider how its contents and tone could be interpreted.
The purpose of this document is to reinforce the importance of patients receiving a letter and to support psychiatrists in communicating in a clear and helpful way.
What does the guidance cover?
The scope of this guidance extends to out-patient letters written in the first instance. While many of the principles will be transferable to other pieces of written communication with patients, such as discharge summaries, this guidance is not specifically designed to deal these.
Please note that subspecialty-specific guidance is not provided for medical psychotherapy - the content of such correspondence varies according to the nature of therapy offered. However, this document’s general guidance still applies, as it does to all subspecialties, and the example letters for some of the other specialties may still be a useful resource.