New Barnstaple psychiatry service

Joseph Bulmer

A NEW service to support people with mental health needs has been set up at North Devon District Hospital.

The Liaison Psychiatry Team has been established to provide specialist assessment and support for people who have been admitted to hospital for a physical health need, but who also have needs around their mental health and wellbeing.

It mirrors successful services in Torbay and Exeter.

Team leader and psychiatric nurse Cath Courtney said: “The vast majority of people who come into hospital do so because they have a physical problem, but some people also require specialist input to address their mental health issues. This new team provides assessment, short-term care and treatment for people of all ages, except children, while they are in hospital and onward referral to other services when they are discharged. We also provide mental health advice and education for the staff on the hospital wards, as well as support for carers.

“We conduct the assessments discreetly and sensitively and away from the ward where the person is staying. Typically, we might see people who have conditions such as dementia, depression or psychosis, people who have issues with drugs or alcohol and people who may have attempted to harm themselves or take their own life.”

At present, the Liaison Psychiatry Team has four specialist nurses, two of whom have particular expertise in the care of older people, and the team will shortly have its own dedicated consultant psychiatrist. The team operates from 9am – 5pm on weekdays, with arrangements in place to manage urgent cases out-of-hours. The team can be contacted on (01271) 313956.