Derbyshire Healthcare & RwHealth | Mental Health Leadership Strategic Round Table Summary

Our Mental Health Round Table event provided a fantastic opportunity to discuss systems and solutions that will help a better experience for patients and staff alike.

Most importantly, this was an opportunity to challenge one another to think differently about the challenges we face as a sector – and the impact any possible solutions will have on those who rely on them.

Reimagining patient flow

When we discharge a patient, it’s easy to think this is the end of their care. The reality for the patient, however, is simply a transition to the next stage in their journey. 

We should not view this handover as the end of our involvement – and nor should we view the next team as separate from ourselves. We are collectively working toward the same goals, and only by realising this will we successfully address the occupancy issues at hand.

Perhaps the greatest challenge in mental health flow is the lack of support which would protect people from being readmitted. Consideration must be given to what awaits patients after discharge.

Out of Hours

70% of the week is OOH, but OOH cover is often left to junior staff, leaving the most inexperienced amongst us to care for the most complex cases. A more senior OOH presence is urgently required to both support staff and ensure patients are achieving the best possible care, irrespective of the time of day. 

As well as presenting staffing and care challenges, these demanding hours make these tiles far from appealing to potential new talent. These unsociable hours also create challenges when trying to work with other elements of the care system; the rest of the system does not consistently work OOH, leaving OOH discharges in limbo until ‘normal’ working hours.

Proactive workforce management

Delays in resolving recruitment and retention issues cause temporary costs to skyrocket as agency staff are required to patch holes, leaving little funding for permanent staff.

Round table discussion revealed continual failures to build retention plans across the board and identified flawed (or entirely absent) succession planning. We know people retire year on year, yet we often find ourselves scrambling to pick up where someone left off. It’s essential we shift to a pre-emptive and proactive model wherever possible.

Using data the right way

In the absence of easily accessible data evidence, it’s easy for weaknesses and failings to hide in plain sight. Together, attendees explored how we can ensure all actions are backed by our own data and how it can help us identify unwarranted variation – both internally and between organisations.

Key steps for the future:

  • Empower self-care in the home and enhance remotely accessible support 
  • Going forward, involving patients in future round table events and discussions will help create services that truly meet the needs of our target populations. 
  • We often intervene too late. Earlier intervention will require significant systemic overhaul, but the size of that challenge should not prevent us from pursuing it. 
  • Explore situational impacts on the mental health of children and adolescents to help reduce climbing levels of prescribing in these age groups.

For more in-depth insights, please download the full report here.

We would like to thank everyone for their contributions to this event and look forward to seeing you all again in future.