New updates to improvements in community mental health services in Birmingham
Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (BSMHFT) has provided an update on improvements to their community mental health services (CMHTs), after patients shared their issues with medicine management, access to care and appointments, respect and communication.
Following Healthwatch Birmingham’s initial investigation into service quality in Birmingham CMHTs last year, the local health champion’s latest follow up report highlights the progress of improvements for people living with mental health needs.
- Improvements in medicine management, including dedicated staff leading on developing better systems for ordering and delivering medication.
- More patient-centred, flexible times for service users to drop in and access medication.
- Better communication, with increased information for patients about what to do out of hours or when calling in crisis.
Last year patients and professionals in the community shared their experiences of Zinnia Centre CMHT with Healthwatch Birmingham. Feedback highlighted issues such as delays and problems with medicine management and inflexibility of pick up times for medication. The initial investigation also heard about difficulties contacting the CMHT, getting responses or accessing follow up care.
The Zinnia Centre provides important services such as assessment, specialist support and care for local people with mental health issues, such as psychosis and depression.
“Every time I come to pick up my medication, it’s not available,” one patient told Healthwatch Birmingham. Further feedback from other service users also shared how stressful it was to not have medicine available, on time or managed appropriately.
Now, BSMHFT have put in place a series of improvements to ensure better access for patients. This includes changes in the dispensing of medication, including a dedicated community psychiatric nurse (CPN) leading on improving systems, and better communication with service users if medication is not available. BSMHFT have also improved people’s telephone access to the Zinnia Centre and support, with calls answered more quickly and signposting information about crisis support within voicemail messages.
Healthwatch Birmingham’s role is to champion people’s views and ensure that those designing and delivering NHS services listen to people’s views and act on them.
Jane Upton, Head of Evidence at Healthwatch Birmingham, led on both the initial and follow up studies: “Our report emphasises the importance of the Healthwatch role to ensure the issues people face are heard, and that we hold services to account for planning improvements. This update by BSMHFT really shows the value of services listening to patient feedback and the powerful influence it can have. It shows a true commitment to responding to the views of services users and making access to community mental health support better for local people.”
Sue Hartley, Executive Director of Nursing at Birmingham and Solihull NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Providing an excellent, high quality service to our service users is at the heart of everything we do. To help us to achieve this, it’s really important that we actively listen to and work with our service users, their families and carers to improve services. We welcome the role that Healthwatch plays in helping us to understand the views of people who use our services and to improve their experience, as demonstrated by this report.”
Healthwatch Birmingham is encouraging people to continue sharing their experiences of mental health services to ensure improvements are maintained.
Details of how to share feedback with the Trust directly are included in the report.