Virtual visits begin as GIRFT mental health rehabilitation review gets under way

The Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programme has begun its nationwide review of mental health rehabilitation services, with virtual visits to 56 trusts planned to help improve patient care.

GIRFT clinical lead Dr Sridevi Kalidindi – a consultant rehabilitation psychiatrist at South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust – will be meeting virtually with clinicians and managers over the next few months, looking at the issues facing the specialty, identifying good practice and discussing improvements that might be made.

Dr Kalidindi said: “The Getting It Right First Time workstream in mental health rehabilitation provides an enormous, and long overdue, opportunity to upgrade rehabilitation services nationally. Improved patient experience and outcomes, along with enhanced system functioning, is at the heart of this programme.

“Working with providers, we want to identify what assists them and what hinders them in delivering and improving services to their local communities. We will be working closely with trust teams to identify where they fit into the national picture, discuss any barriers to improvement and share their good practice with other trusts nationally.”

One of the key issues will be that of timely and appropriate local access and flow. There is good evidence to show the effectiveness of local rehabilitation services – both community and inpatient. However, where these local services do not exist or do not adequately meet the local population needs, service users are unable to access rehabilitation in a timely manner, sometimes resulting in repeat admissions to acute inpatients, accommodation breakdown and longer acute admissions.

Another theme is likely to be that of service users placed out of area for inpatient and community rehabilitation. Out of area rehabilitation placements often result in poorer service user experience due to dislocation from family, friends and local care teams. They are also often more expensive than local care, due to longer lengths of stay. 

Dr Kalidindi added: “The need for a good, supported accommodation pathway, with personalised care packages, is paramount to sustained community living for this group.  Understanding the data and developing clear pathways is essential for flow to the least restrictive, most independent setting possible for each person.”

Mental health is one of 40+ specialties being reviewed by the GIRFT programme, with three separate workstreams looking at rehabilitation, adult crisis and acute services and services for children and young people. Visits for the adult crisis and acute mental health workstream began in December 2019, and the children and young people visits are expected to begin soon.

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