We can provide access to a psychiatrist more easily, more cheaply, and definitely much more quickly than any other organisation in the country. We are as large a group of psychiatrists as an average Mental Health Trust. We have specialists in every sub-specialty in psychiatry. We are CQC registered and you can find us on the NHS Choices website.
If you have patients for whom one of our consultations might be beneficial, perhaps because of the lack of a specific local NHS service, or because of confidentiality issues around subjects like alcohol and other drug related issues, or perhaps you require a second opinion, or access to more intensive psychotherapy than is locally available, we are always willing to talk about whether we can help.
Unfortunately, the way that the NHS funds mental health services means that, even though we are fully qualified and accredited to provide you with our service, our experience is that it will be a struggle to get the funding from your local CCG. This is a great pity as all of the evidence shows that early intervention is the best indicator of improved outcomes with mental health – and our model is incredibly economically attractive as well!
In fact, the service we have developed was conceived with GPs in mind. We have talked with a number of GP colleagues over the last four years and have listened closely to their views on the weaknesses they perceive in the services they receive at present – so we think that we could work with GPs to do it better, especially when it comes to community services.
The basic idea of our model is that we can provide a rapid access high quality triage system. We want to run a pilot to help show this and have been actively seeking a Clinical Commissioning Group, an existing Mental Health Trust or a group of surgeries to develop this pilot – but though we have received considerable encouragement from individual GPs, we have not formally engaged with direct referrals via the NHS yet. As a result, we launched our service to the general public directly.
If you have had a problem knowing where to send any patients who approach you for recommendations as to where they might privately access a rapid and economical medical opinion on their mental health, along with advice on medication and onward referral to fully supported online psychological therapies and coaching, we believe that we could be your answer.
In the last couple of years, we have been approached by a number of rather more innovative and business-like organisations and institutions than the NHS to develop services with them. We have received great enthusiasm from the education sector and the legal/insurance services industry. We believe that in ten years’ time, most community mental health services will be supplied remotely – and we still believe that the model that we have developed is best suited as a service into the NHS. We are continuing to invite any interested GPs, Commissioners, and Mental Health Trusts to contact us to discuss how we can work together. We have considerable evidence that there is a great need for our service, and we suspect that you will too.
Our basic model would be to allow a GP, sitting in his or her surgery, with a patient there, to click on a link and have a list of specialist consultant psychiatrists listed in front of them with filters to then reduce these down to specialists in the particular field required. The GP and patient can then quickly choose a suitable consultant available at a suitable time and book an appointment. The GP – or the practice manager, then has to come back later and fill in the referral form to supply any other information available and confirm the appointment. The patient can either return to the surgery or have the appointment in their own home, connecting into our secure online consultation rooms from their own digital devices. The consultant psychiatrist thus provides the patient and the GP with an almost instant specialist diagnosis and helps them agree the best way to handle the patient’s ongoing treatment.
We believe that this service would be a valuable tool for GPs as it would allow you to rapidly make your own decisions as to whether local NHS mental health services need to be involved or whether a patient’s problems can be better managed in other ways. We have access to considerable evidence that such a system would reduce onward referrals to local services by over 50%, and, for instance, reduce hospital admissions for depression by at least that amount. A couple of the partners in Psychiatry-UK LLP have actually set up and run primary care liaison services and we have a multi-disciplinary team available to join us in developing this online version. With sufficient numbers of patients involved, we would also be able to offer an email advice service, responding within 24 hours, or even a immediate response telephone advice service for GPs.
One of the other ideas that we want to discuss with GPs is how, in the long term, we could improve the provision of all community psychiatric services. We have some ideas which we believe might be interesting to you and which we would like to develop with you. We believe that we have the basic framework for a far better and cheaper way of doing things than how it is done at present.