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New film highlights importance of liaison psychiatry services

A film developed by the Psychological Medicine Service at Cental North West London NHS Foundation Trust showcases the need for an integrated approach to the delivery of care for patients with both physical and mental health needs.  Illustrated with real cases from Brent, it shows how patients often experience physical and psychological illness at the same time, whether in the hospital or in the community. 

Steven Reid, CNWL Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist and Clinical Director for Psychological Medicine, said: “Many of the services provided by the NHS split physical and mental health. What we try to do in Liaison Psychiatry is bring body and mind back together again. This illustrative film highlights just how we make a difference to people being treated for physical illness in general hospitals.”

The co-occurrence of physical and mental health problems is common among patients in a hospital setting. One example described in the film is the case of a person suffering from diabetes who, as a result of the illness, was left feeling extremely depressed. The film explains how psychological treatment can lead to improved control of blood sugar levels.

Steven Reid continued: “If a person has lost hope then being referred to the Liaison Psychiatry Service can be life saving. We aim to improve the patient experience. If these issues are not addressed then the patient can have poorer health outcomes, delayed discharge and increased use of healthcare resources.”

Clare Lyons-Collins, Hammersmith and Fulham CCG's mental health lead, who features in the animation, added: "Commissioning a liaison psychiatry service ensures that those with mental health illness ensure they have a positive experience when the attend an acute hospital. We are learning more and more about the importance of good mental health and wellbeing and the benefits that it has on general health.

"This animation explains perfectly what psychiatric liaison is about and how it can help”.

The film also highlights how important a flexible approach can be, as one patient in the community could not leave the house to access the Liaison Psychiatry Service. In this case staff contacted the patient at home to offer support and treatment over the telephone.