Telepsychiatry offered to young people in Gwent to reduce waiting times


Telepsychiatry is being offered as an alternative to face-to-face assessments for young people with mental health problems in the Welsh county, Gwent.

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board has introduced a programme allowing patients to access psychiatric assessment and care through videoconferencing.

It’s hoped the programme will reduce waiting times for assessment caused by clinicians travelling long distances between paediatric wards and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) teams.

The CAMHS team will be able to input into case reviews and multidisciplinary team meetings, as well as provide better support to paediatric staff in hospital wards, especially those dealing with difficult cases.

The programme will also offer the opportunity for psychiatrists to assess patients when a senior opinion is required.

Dr Alka Ahuja, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist at the hospital, said: “The introduction of telepsychiatry has the potential to provide an efficient service that saves time, reduces cost and decreases stress for patients and staff.

“The project will be evaluated by measuring clinical outcomes, uptake and engagement, and staff, patient and carer satisfaction. If successful, it will provide evidence to support the rollout of telepsychiatry to other teams.”

Staff will be trained in how to use the telepsychiatry to speak to patients and guidelines established for staff on issues like consent; interview setting and management; and back-up arrangements if technology fails.

The team received up to £75,000 of funding for the project from The Health Foundation as part of their “Innovating for Improvement” programme.

The telepsychiatry programme will run until March 2020.

In a seperate story, in January 2019, the National Institute for Health and Social Care (NICE) recommended that children and young people are offered digital cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to treat mild depression.

The public body is advising that under 18s have access to CBT through smartphones, tablets and laptops to help them manage their mental health.

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