Posted on 15th May, 2013
A Consultant Psychiatrist at Devon Partnership NHS Trust’s Langdon Hospital, in Dawlish, has been appointed by NHS England as the inaugural Chair of an important new mental health network. Dr Adrian James, a Consultant at the newly-built Dewnans Centre, will lead the network looking into issues around mental health, dementia and neurology. Covering Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Avon, Gloucester and Wiltshire, this is one of four networks that are being established on a regional basis, all over the country, to monitor and drive forward improvements in key areas of healthcare. The other three areas are cardiovascular care, maternity and children’s care and cancer. Commenting on his appointment, Adrian said: “The network will operate across organisational and geographic boundaries and there is a host of issues that we hope to look into in due course. We know that we have a couple of immediate priorities and one of the first is to improve the quality of the data that we have about mental health in the south west. This is vital if we are to gain a clearer understanding of the main issues and challenges that we face locally, and make meaningful comparisons with other parts of the country – and indeed the world. “I would also like to see our group doing regular work to raise awareness and understanding about mental health right across the south west. This agenda has been gathering a head of steam over the last couple of years, but the creation of this group is an ideal opportunity to add some extra impetus to our efforts. As well as users of services and members of the public, this engagement will include working closely with the new commissioners of mental health services across the patch and I have been heartened by the enthusiasm and interest that has been shown from the early conversations that I have had. “In terms of service issues, we will be looking at the significant benefits that the liaison psychiatry model is already delivering in Devon and some other areas – and how we might extend the good practice. This approach is based on teams of mental health professionals working more closely with their colleagues in acute hospitals, to support people who may be in hospital primarily because of a physical health need, but also require specialist mental health support – for example people with dementia or pregnant mothers who are experiencing serious mental health issues. “We already have a well-established South West Mental Health Alliance, which includes many users of services and people with lived experience of mental ill health and this will provide an invaluable source of ‘on the ground’ information to support the network. Together, I believe that they have the potential to drive forward some real change for the better, and this is good news for everyone concerned.