MENTAL HEALTH: A team based in Swindon has reduced the number of patients waiting for an assessment of their mental health needs by two-thirds in just two months.

Swindon’s mental health primary care liaison team, based at Sandalwood Court, an inpatient unit, now has a waiting list of 62 patients compared with over 180 in January.

A spokeswoman for Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust said that staff vacancies, absences and a high caseload meant that the team had struggled to meet their four week assessment targets.

The waiting list reduction follows the recruitment of three more staff, bringing the total to 10, and a review of how the service works, she added.

The team works closely with the hospital’s accident and emergency department and local GPs to assess patients presenting at the hospital with mental health needs.

They then refer patients on to the required service, which may include “Least Intervention First Time” services, recovery teams, an early intervention scheme and memory services.

Where clinically indicated, the team can now offer assessment within 24 hours and older patients are now being referred more rapidly for memory assessments.

Lisa Hollis, the liaison team manager, said: “We are delighted that we are now able to deliver a quicker, more effective service for users.

“This achievement has been a collective effort that has included each and every one of the team and I want to thank everyone for their fantastic work”.