Characteristics of an Accident and Emergency liaison mental health service in East London
Aim of the study. To analyse the work of a liaison mental health service at the Accident and Emergency (A & E) department of a hospital in East London.
Background. The English National Service Frameworks (NSF) for Mental Health recommend that A & E departments provide liaison mental health services and this study reports how a service in East London is responding to this challenge.
Research methods. Data were collected during a 14-month period using a specially designed audit form.
Results. The typical referral was aged 36, of either sex, United Kingdom (UK) non-White with a diagnosis of depression. The majority of referrals were in the afternoon and seen immediately. A slight majority were known to mental health services; many were new referrals. Older and male clients were more likely, and Bengali and other Asian clients were less likely, to be registered with a psychiatrist. There were seasonal variations in referral type. Emergency referrals tended to have a diagnosis of schizophrenia; urgent and non-urgent referrals were more likely to be depressed. The outcome for the majority of referrals was referral to appropriate community services. The majority of non-clinical referrals were for advice, information and support.
Discussion and conclusions. The service seems a useful resource for A & E staff, and clients with mental health problems. The service is a channel through which people access mental health services and appears to address the NSF for Mental Health.