Liaison psychiatry service

As many as a quarter of people admitted to hospital with physical problems also have mental health issues.

We’re a team of mental health professionals who have specific expertise in helping people who have mental health needs as well physical health problems. We work mainly in general hospital.

We provide mental health support for people on the wards, in urgent care centres, and emergency departments We help general hospital staff to understand the connections between physical and mental health problems better and how best to manage these.

See how a liaison psychiatry team work with the police and medical teams to provide a place of safety for a vulnerable person.

Our team includes:

  • Mental health nurses
  • Occupational therapists
  • Social workers
  • Doctors.

  • People over the age of 18 who are experiencing mental health problems brought about by physical ill health or pregnancy.
  • People over the age of 18 years who need specialist mental health advice in an urgent care centre or emergency department (ED), for example, following self-harm.

This could be:

  • An older person who has delirium
  • Someone being seen in the emergency department because they have self-harmed
  • A person who has an existing mental health problem and is in hospital with a physical illness
  • Someone who’s been diagnosed with a physical illness who’s experiencing confusion and needs some emotional support.

What happens if you are referred to our service:

  • If you’re in an emergency department, or are an inpatient on a ward, hospital staff will arrange for an initial assessment with our team
  • Appointments will generally take place in a private place in the emergency department or on the ward, if possible
  • Before we see you, we’ll review your records to understand how best we can help you. If you need an interpreter, please let us know.

The assessment is a chance to talk about your problem and how it affects your life, and to begin to get help:

  • We may also – with your consent – ask your family or carers for extra information
  • We’ll work with the medical team if we feel that you might benefit from any other investigations. This will help us to offer advice for further treatment and management of your problem
  • We may also need to discuss your care with social services or similar agencies, if we think there may be an issue with which they can help
  • We’ll send you a letter explaining our assessment. We also give copies to your treating team, your GP and to any professional you say is already providing you with care or treatment. We’ll also give the letter to any relative or carer, if you want us to.

Please let us know if you don’t want to receive a copy of your letter.

 

This will depend upon your needs:

  • We may see you for more sessions or to monitor how you’re doing while you’re still in hospital
  • We offer psychological therapy, medicines or a combination of both. We also give advice to medical and surgical teams who’re treating you. We involve your GP wherever possible
  • If you want us to, we can discuss the problems you’re experiencing with your family or carers
  • If you need the additional involvement of mental health services, we’ll refer you to services in your area so that you continue to receive the care you need. 

Sometimes patients may be taken to hospital or to another place where they’ll be safe for up to 24 hours (this can be extended by 12 hours) under section 136 of  the Mental Health Act. This is a law. 

Read more about the mental health act on the Rethink website.

This can happen if a police officer is concerned that you may have a mental disorder and need to be seen by a mental health professional for an urgent assessment.

This type of assessment is usually called a Mental Health Act assessment. It will be carried out by doctors, nurses and sometimes a social worker.

After your Mental Health Act assessment, you may be:

  • Discharged home
  • Admitted to a psychiatric hospital for further assessment and, if necessary, treatment of a mental disorder.

Usually, we’ll only see you with your consent. Anything you say is treated in strictest confidence and will only be shared with other members of the team and with other people involved in your care, such as your GP.

We work in both the general hospital and West London NHS Trust.

Our notes are stored safely so that the doctors who are treating you have a record of our advice.

We may have to talk to other agencies about your care if:

  • We believe there’s a significant risk you might seriously harm yourself or others
  • We’re concerned about possible harm to vulnerable people such as children.

The team helps patients in:

  • Ealing Hospital
  • Charing Cross Hospital
  • West Middlesex Hospital
  • Hammersmith Hospital.
See what it’s like to be in liaison psychiatry.