A unique health service in the Wakefield and five towns area have had their outstanding work recognised by a prestigious national award, which was backed by the Prime Minister.
The PLATT service – which stands for Primary Care Liaison Assessment, Treatment and Training – were announced as runners-up in the Guardian Public Service Awards, in the ‘Service Delivery – Mental Health’ category at a special event in London.
PLATT is an innovative service which delivers care for people with mild to moderate mental health problems within a primary care setting and it is run by the South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust. Anybody experiencing common problems such as anxiety, depression, bereavement or relationship problems can be referred to the service by their GP, which reduces the need for people to access secondary care services.
The Guardian Public Services Awards aim to encourage improvement, innovation and change throughout the country’s public services. At the launch of the awards, the Prime Minister said, ‘I am constantly aware of the crucial importance of high quality public services in building a fairer and more prosperous society and of the daily dedication of public servants and their partners in the voluntary and private sectors in providing and improving these services. That’s why I’m pleased to support these imaginative awards.’
PLATT have offered assessment and short-term interventions to over 6000 people since its launch in 2001, reducing referrals to secondary care by 70%. The service is encouraging GPs to place a high importance on common mental health problems, reducing the need for people to enter secondary care. The team also provides training to primary care professionals, educating them around a wide range of issues relating to mental health and the importance of mental health promotion.
All referrals to PLATT are managed centrally at the service’s base and people referred to the service by their GP are invited to phone the team to make an appointment for assessment. When they ring the team they are offered an appointment at a time and place that is best for them – clinics are now held all over Wakefield and Pontefract. The number of people who did not attend their appointment has dropped by 16% since these changes and there is now no waiting time for referral assessments – each person referred to the team can be seen within one week should they want to be, although some people do not want to be seen so quickly.
Speaking about the award, Linda Clarke, PLATT service manager, said, ‘To be a runner up for such a prestigious award is a major achievement for every member of the PLATT team. It is refreshing to have innovative practice recognised in this way and it will hopefully encourage the development of similar services across the country. We have already been approached by colleagues in other areas wishing to adapt our model to their own local needs.
‘Whilst we all acknowledge the importance of providing services for people with severe mental health problems, we cannot underestimate the need to provide rapidly accessed services for people with mild to moderate mental health problems. Maybe by tackling these issues earlier we can reduce the need for prolonged engagement with specialist secondary mental health services in the future.’