Improving the assessment and referral of mental health patients

This article discusses a report which sought to examine how patients with mental health (MH) problems were treated by South West Ambulance Service Trust (SWAST); particularly in cases of threatened suicide and/or deliberate self harm, the strongest predictor of suicide (Hawton et al, 2003), and compared the findings with the national picture. SWAST had similar organizational difficulties in that MH service providers’ boundaries do not match theirs, so a pan-trust policy is hard to achieve. There are some local arrangements in existence, although this report sought to pursue uniformity in approach rather than reinforcing the notion of the ‘postcode lottery’ of healthcare delivery.

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