Monday 1 November 2010

Time for the Measure

I've received some feedback seeking precedents for setting out specific timescales for providing services to people with serious mental illness...

In the case of assessment the Welsh Assembly Government evidently thinks it is reasonable to be specific about timescales, as can be seen from this snippet from their guidance for Community Mental Health Teams...

The CMHT will offer timely assessment of the needs of people referred to the service. Assessments will be prioritised according to apparent need and risk... A supervised triage approach to response times for assessments to be undertaken, namely:

- Emergency referrals will be seen within 1-4 hours;
- Urgent referrals will be seen within 48 hours;
- Routine referrals will be seen within a maximum of 4 weeks, but usually much sooner

In the official Guidance (or Code of Practice) which sits below the Measure we need to see this kind of intelligent, flexible advice not only for the time taken to undertake assessment but also for completion of Care Plans following assessment.

What would this mean? In a nutshell it would mean patients would have legal redress if the guidance wasn't followed reasonably well and without good reason not to follow it - so allowing for delays where particular circumstances genuinely warrant them. By contrast without such guidance a court would have to assess from scratch when a delay becomes unreasonable, not a fair or practical position either for the patient or indeed for the practitioner with the legal duties in question: everybody is entitled to know where they stand.

For more about the Measure see my recent post below and Hafal's Briefing Note here.