A senior psychiatric liaison nurse
Jack Turner is a mental health nurse for Camden & Islington NHS Foundation Trust, who has been working in the new 24/7 Mental Health Crisis Assessment Service (MHCAS), based at St Pancras Hospital. The service was rapidly set-up at the start of lockdown for those needing emergency mental health assessment away from hospital emergency departments (ED).
Jack explained: “Patients would have usually gone to UCLH, RFH London and The Whittington Hospital, but as a result of our new service, which was set up in just a few days, 978 patients came to the service between 23 March and the end of July. Most of these would have usually gone to an acute hospital – not a great place during a pandemic”.
The service saw only patients who didn’t have Covid-19 symptoms nor any other kind of medical need and ensured that patients in mental health crisis had somewhere safe to go and did not avoid seeking treatment due to fears of the virus.
Nurses like Jack saw their roles change overnight during the pandemic, and plans are now well underway to make the service a permanent one.
Jack said: “It’s been a real challenge but the team has responded exceptionally and everyone worked really hard to make what was a stressful transition very positive for the patients.
“The success we’ve had has been down to the hard work of everyone in the team. Some patients definitely prefer not being in a busy, hectic ED and prefer being treated in a more relaxed environment. However, some did find the transfer from ED to our service more challenging but understood the reasons behind it. In general, people do not want to wait in an ED when they are in a psychiatric crisis – they want to be in a specialist environment”.
This is a real-life case study based on the experiences of staff at Camden & Islington NHS Foundation Trust