A conference to assess the implementation of a new service in East Devon is taking place at Escot House later this month.
Delegates from local healthcare services will evaluate the PCN Mental Health Team, which was introduced in the Honiton, Ottery St Mary and Sidmouth Primary Care Network (PCN) just over a year ago to provide a more effective mental health and wellbeing service for local patients.
This service aims to improve outcomes for patients with mild to moderate mental health issues by offering timely support with an appropriate professional, ultimately helping to reduce the number of patients needing GP and hospital appointments. Operated in partnership with community mental health teams it integrates with wellbeing resources from the voluntary sector - including activities and social clubs - to increase the availability and range of treatments and support for patients.
The PCN Mental Health Team comprises a variety of health professionals including wellbeing coaches, community connectors and mental health professionals. Clinical Director for the PCN and one of the driving forces behind this initiative, Dr Jennie Button said:
“This is already proving to be an amazing resource for patients and the feedback we’ve received has been fantastic. I look forward to supporting the continued development of this vital service.”
Another member of the team, mental health and wellbeing coach Abigail Dawson added: “We work with people as individuals and cater the service to what each person needs, supporting people to make changes themselves, linking into community services and establishing tools to use for life.
“To see the empowerment and positive impact that this service creates for individuals every day is both humbling and rewarding.”
So far over 1200 patients have been referred to the PCN Mental Health Team, and the success of the service has led to it being introduced to the two other East Devon PCNs covering Woodbury, Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth, Seaton and Axminster.
Andy Stapley from East Devon Healthcare explained: “The gaps in support for mental health and wellbeing issues especially with the impact of the pandemic were clear, and the introduction of PCNs opened up access to funding for this much-needed new service.
“East Devon Healthcare is fully behind this initiative and the intention to roll it out further so that all patients across East Devon can benefit.”
The conference at Escot on May 17 will bring together health professionals from the three regions including Clinical Directors, mental health teams, local counsellors and other key agencies to look at the learning so far and create a shared vision for East Devon. Delegates will discuss achievements to date and look ahead to ways the service can help to tackle the many challenges healthcare is facing post-pandemic.
“We hope this will become an annual event to give a platform for ongoing information-sharing,” Andy added.