Mental health teams brought together to improve patient safety and health equity 

Mental health teams brought together to improve patient safety and health equity 

Mental health teams across the South of England have come face to face for the first time in over two years this summer at an all-day learning event.  

The event, held on 12 July, was an opportunity for the teams, known collectively as the Mental Health Collaborative, to share learning and network, which has been particularly challenging for large geographic collaboratives during the pandemic.  

It was a long sought after opportunity for project teams to discuss and learn more about using quality improvement (QI) approaches to reduce restrictive practice in in-patient mental health, learning disability and autism units – a key ambition of the NHS England commissioned Mental Health Safety Improvement Programme (MHSIP), which the South West Academic Health Science Network is delivering this year.  

With over 90 staff joining from as far afield as Cornwall and the Isle of Wight, the event offered unique opportunities for collaboration across the mental health sector in order to foster QI approaches to patient safety, drive health equity and review progress against the ambitions of the MHSIP. 

Hosted by the West of England Academic Health Science Network, the collaborative was created in partnership with our South West AHSN, and now includes Kent, Surrey and Sussex AHSN, Oxford AHSN, and Wessex AHSN alongside 16 mental health trusts across the south of the country. The collaborative aims to improve the quality and safety of services for users of mental health services. 

The event was chaired by Dr Helen Smith, chair of the collaborative and National Clinical Lead for MHSIP alongside opportunities to hear from experts by experience and collaborative colleagues. 

Dr Ellen Wilkinson, Clinical Lead for South West AHSN MHSIP, said: “We started the day listening to a patient talking about her experiences of restrictive practices. They affected her deeply and continued to undermine her trust in the care she received. She reflected on what she felt could have been done differently. When we avoid restrictive practices, we improve the care patients receive. We can also enhance staff experience by enabling them to focus on delivering compassionate and recovery-focused care.” 

According to Jen Taylor-Watt, South West MHSIP Programme Manager, the event was a valuable opportunity for ward teams to step back, reflect and connect with patients, carers and other staff on this very important work.

“Time with each other – listening, sharing and learning – built energy, focus and motivation to step up the work across the South of England”, said Jen. “We at the AHSN are so excited to continue to support this work, and deliver change for patients in the South West.” 

The event has received significant positive feedback on social media with attendees also commenting:  

“I just wanted to say a big thank you from all of us who came yesterday. We really enjoyed the day and were engaged throughout, which is not always the case in this kind of event. There was so much to hear, learn from but also to recognise how we are doing as a team”. 

“Heartening, uplifting and informative.”  

The collaborative hosts regular all-day learning events throughout the year. To find out more about the collaborative or its events, please contact Jen Taylor-Watt, South West AHSN Mental Health Programme Manager (jen.taylor-watt@swahsn.com).  

Learn more about our work to improve safety and outcomes of mental health care in the South West.  

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