NICE produces draft guidance on streamlining mental health care

Improved transitions between hospital and community is needed, says NICE

Published on 5th April 2016

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence is seeking to streamline mental health care for people with mental ill health moving between hospital and community care.

Deputy Chief Executive of NICE Professor Gillian Leng warned that more than 1,000 people with mental health problems commit suicide every year sometimes just weeks after being discharged from hospital.

“We can help reduce this number by better communication, and more joint working, between hospital and community mental health teams,” said Professor Leng.

Draft guidance recommends a practitioner within the person’s home area is identified and becomes responsible for ensuring that there is sufficient support upon discharge from hospital. This would include assessing and recording the person’s risk of self-harming.

The proposal follows figures which shows that between 2003 and 2013 over 2,000 people committed suicide within the first 3 months after being discharged from hospital. In some circumstances people experiencing mental health problems have to be admitted to hospitals outside of the area they live in, away from their family and friends. This can result in feelings of isolation and may lead to fragmented support when they return home.

Research has suggested that effective communication with the person’s family during the development of treatment plans could reduce suicide risk by 16%.

In recognition of this, draft recommendations highlight the benefit of keeping the person’s family, friends and carers properly informed.  NICE suggests that an identified member of the person’s medical team should be assigned to the family, providing them with timely updates on new admissions, the care being given and the practicalities around hospital visiting hours.

Nearly 2 million people sought help from mental health experts in England 2013/14. We must ensure they’re getting the care they need, when and where they need it.

Rebecca Harrington, an independent social care and health consultant and chair of the group that developed the guideline said: “Our aim is that people who need hospital treatment for their mental health needs are well supported before, during and after their time in hospital, so that they benefit from continuity of treatment and care, and avoid being isolated and stigmatised.”

Anyone with experience or expertise in this area is encouraged to submit their views. The consultation closes on 27 April 2016.

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