PurposeIn Scotland, individuals referred for NHS psychological therapies are expected to commence “treatment” within 18 weeks of receipt of referral. With high demand, high non-attendance rates and limited capacity, this can be a challenging goal. The service discussed here was keen to develop a way of seeing individuals referred sooner and improving the efficiency of the assessment process. The purpose of this paper is to look at the impact of introducing assessment (“Signpost”) appointments on waiting times, attendance, and treatment planning.Design/methodology/approachSignpost appointments were offered to all existing, and any new referrals, to an adult psychological therapies team (PTT) in NHS Lanarkshire. Clinicians kept a record of the outcomes of these appointments over a six month period. Waiting times and attendance figures were compared before and after the introduction of the Signpost system.FindingsFollowing the introduction of Signpost appointments, individuals were seen sooner for both assessment and therapy. Attendance at first appointments improved and Signpost appointments helped inform treatment planning. Although alternatives were discussed, the majority of clients were still offered individual therapy. Service user and staff satisfaction was high.Practical implicationsThe results from this study led to assessment (“Signpost”) appointments being rolled out across other adult PTTs in NHS Lanarkshire.Originality/valueThere is little research looking at the impact of assessment/signpost appointments on adult mental health services in the UK. In the current climate of public service cuts, this study provides an innovative way of reducing waiting times and maintaining service user satisfaction, without requiring more resources.
Mental Health Review Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 12, 2018
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