• Run by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust’s Emergency Department Psychiatric Service, in partnership with Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust.
  • Focused on patients presenting with psychiatric issues to the emergency departments of John Radcliffe and Horton hospitals.
  • Will trial telepsychiatry – video conferencing to deliver mental health services from a distance.
  • Telepsychiatry will be used to provide senior medical opinion; to complete assessments at distance; and to provide follow-up home appointments using patients’ own technology.

Telepsychiatry – the use of video conferencing to deliver mental health services – is being used increasingly in Australia, Canada and the USA. Initially it was used to provide a service to remote communities, but increasingly it is used locally because of proven patient satisfaction, and the cost and time savings to both patients and providers.

The Emergency Department Psychiatric Service in Oxford provides assessment of all patients presenting with psychiatric issues to the emergency departments at John Radcliffe and Horton hospitals. The service is based at John Radcliffe Hospital but carries out assessments at Horton Hospital, approximately 25 miles distance. The distance means patients have to wait an hour or more to be seen, delaying their discharge from A&E. Staff time is taken up travelling and there are associated travel costs.

Telepsychiatry has yet to be widely adopted in the UK, despite the potential benefits. The most widely cited barrier is the unwillingness of professionals to use it.

This project will trial telepsychiatry in three ways: to get senior medical opinion on complex cases, including video interviews with patients; to carry out complete assessments at the Horton Hospital; and to provide follow-up appointments using the patients’ own phone, tablet or computer.

The aim is to develop relevant guidelines for telepsychiatry and a familiarisation programme for staff; test patients’ and professionals’ satisfaction with this method of communication; and examine cost and time savings. This will provide an evidence base for the use of such technology-assisted interviews across the community teams in the trust.

Contact details

For more information about this project you can contact, Dr Kezia Lange, Consultant Psychiatrist at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

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