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

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Why is PLAn accreditation SO Valuable?

It provides formal recognition…


Accreditation assures patients, carers, frontline staff, commissioners, managers and regulators

that the liaison service is of a good quality and that staff are committed to improving care.  

Meeting accreditation target helps meet other priorities too, including national and government drives.  PLAN accreditation and quality improvement activity is highly valued:


CQC recognises the potential value of clinical service accreditation and peer-review schemes as information sources to support its inspections.  Such schemes have the potential to provide useful intelligence and provide independent assurance that accredited services meet standards.

The Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) has developed, in association with the cross‐college clinical services accreditation stakeholder’s advisory group, a set of criteria to help CQC determine schemes that can provide robust and reliable information for consideration ahead of and during inspections.

PLAN has applied and been approved as an official information source.


It provides a uniquely valuable experience….

Whilst it’s fantastic to have formal recognition, PLAN membership is about much more than that.

We believe that the accreditation process itself is the most valuable aspect of PLAN, because PLAN allows time for intelligent reflection, information sharing and peer support, nurturing

ongoing quality improvement led by people who truly understand liaison psychiatry.  Read on for quotes from our members about the PLAN experience.



  • "The PLAN process was an excellent exercise for the whole team in reflecting upon our achievements as a new team and areas for development.  We've used the independent information gathered from the PLAN review to gain funding to improve the Emergency Department assessment cubicle.  Gaining PLAN accreditation is a valuable and objective assessment of the quality of the service we provide."  Dr Mahnaz Hashmi, City Hospital.


Achieving accreditation status rewards hardworking liaison staff for their efforts, raises morale and raises the profile of the liaison team within its wider organisation.


  • "The team were so uplifted by all the positive comments and proud of the service they offer."  Barbara Woodworth, Cheshire and Wirral. 


Teams which may be struggling to meet certain PLAN standards are always offered time and support to reach accreditation status.  Taking part in PLAN helps improve services by solving long term problems and encouraging provider organisations to better support their local liaison team.


What’s so special about peer review networks?


PLAN listens to the people on the frontline, including staff from all professional backgrounds, patients and their carers and partner organisations. PLAN is a truly multi-professional initiative and absolutely not just for psychiatrists.  At a local level, this means engaging people in the review of their own service, and at a national level in how the network develops. We believe that the true experts in liaison psychiatry are those who provide and use the service.  Most importantly, patient and carer priorities are of huge importance to PLAN: 


  • "PLAN works hard to ensure that patient and carer priorities are reflected in the process.  Having patients and carers on the review teams, steering group and accreditation committee means that we can actually play a part in shaping liaison services."  Satveer Nijjar, Patient Rep on PLAN, trainer in mental health. 


PLAN promotes the sharing of best practice through the network, providing a forum for advice, support, encouragement and information sharing. The central team has amassed considerable knowledge of the strengths of different PLAN members and will put people in touch with each

other accordingly. PLAN members are also provided with newsletters, an email discussion group and a college member’s support service. 


We support professional development – liaison team members are able to receive free training

in reviewing other services, quality improvement techniques, study days around clinical issues

and many other learning opportunities.  We celebrate good practice and the achievements of staff as they are identified through the review process.


The accreditation process helps to build dialogue with referrers, partner agencies and commissioners.




The PLAN team develops and updates quality standards appropriate for liaison services, in consultation with professionals, patients and carers.

The standards follow a care pathway model, referring to links with primary care and other tiers and agencies.

The standards cover aspects of policy including the National Service Frameworks, the Department of Health’s Standards for Better Health, the Welsh Assembly Government’s Healthcare Standards for Wales and Scotland’s Delivering a Healthy Future.

This means that services can use their tailored reports to demonstrate compliance with these national standards and to inform trust quality accounts as recommended by the National Quality Board.


The benefits of accreditation

Indicators of health, performance, quality and efficiency can give valuable insight into how care is being delivered and there is more emphasis than ever on the use of quality indicators within the NHS to improve services. 


The Psychiatric Liaison Accreditation Network (PLAN), can bring a range of benefits to a liaison service, including:

  • Involving a wide range of stakeholders, including staff from all professional backgrounds, patients and their carers, and partner organisations
  • Improving quality, safety and efficiency within the service
  • Assuring commissioners and managers that the liaison service is of a high quality - in some cases accreditation has helped liaison teams to secure additional funding or new contracts
  • Engaging services with a network of peers, which enables sharing of good practice and provides a forum for advice and information sharing
  • Achievement of accreditation can support services to reduce their financial contribution to the NHSLA

PLAN provides year-round support to help our members maximise opportunities for learning and development. 

This support includes the option of taking part in email discussion groups, learning events and annual conferences, as well as quality improvement advice targeted at individual services.

To find out more information and to join PLAN, please see our leaflet and our How can I join? page.


PLAN, Royal College of Psychiatrists, 21 Prescot Street, London, E1 8BB    

Tel: 020 3701 2523  Email:

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