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North Staffordshire Trust develops mental health self-referral portal


Mark Say Managing Editor

North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust has developed an online portal for self-referrals to mental health services for young people.

Finger on darkened keyboard

The service went live in mid-May using DXC Technology’s Open Health Connect platform as a basis for the plan, which could eliminate weeks of waiting time compared with traditional referral processes.

The trust is now working on a blueprint to make it available to others around the country.

The project has involved analysing real life interactions in child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), and using the recommendation engine within the platform along with rules developed by experienced clinicians in the field.

It analyses key information and responses from children, parents and teachers through the portal to provide alerts to clinicians via their electronic patient records, recommending the most appropriate service.

Reducing waiting time

Julia Ford, clinical lead for CAMHS at North Staffordshire Trust, said: “This is about getting children to the right professional or right information first time, and much faster. At present, seven in 10 referrals to CAMHS are subsequently signposted to external organisations, whilst many young people are forced to wait up to 14 weeks to be seen.

“We are redesigning and connecting services to change that, to remove lengthy processes traditionally associated with referrals, and using technology so we can intelligently refer and triage patients to the most appropriate service for them.”

DXC said plans are already underway to expand the use of the platform to other areas of the country. Learnings are being shared through two national programmes, one around the cross-government green paper on Transforming Children and Young people’s Mental Health Provision, and the Lorenzo Digital Exemplar programme.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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