April’s NHS Improvement investigation on patient choice was followed by the announcement earlier this month of the framework/compulsory guidance, “Choice in mental health: how it can work for you”.It’s hugely significant in giving patients the legal right to a treatment team of their choice.
It means if there any problems following a referral by a GP to a consultant or specialist in mental health, you can immediately go to the commissioner with this document, or go to NHS Improvement directly.
The guidance is relevant for choice of out-patient treatment whether it’s an IAPT provider or a secondary care consultant team. It includes information detailing:
• your right to choose the provider that best meets your individual needs;
• how you can choose any provider of the service you need;
• when your choice isn’t appropriate for your care needs; and
• how your commissioners and healthcare professionals should be proactive in facilitating choice.
Where the guidance states that, “In some areas an assessment service will help to decide what type of treatment is best. If this is the case, you can choose a provider once the assessment has recommended a type of treatment”, this means that if an assessment on a care pathway recommends out-patient CBT you can choose where to be referred and don’t have to exhaust treatment locally or be taken to a Funding panel.
Also, “[Patients] can choose providers known for specialist care or tertiary care if they offer the type of service required.” This is relevant to referring patients to Dr David Veale for the OCD/BDD team at the Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma (CADAT) at the Maudsley Hospital.
There’s also now an out-patient service for compulsive skin-picking/trichotillomania and tics at the Anxiety Disorders Residential Unit at the Bethlem Royal Hospital (as far as The Foundation is aware, the only specialist service for this).
We think this new policy may encourage others to develop more specialist services in OCD/ BDD so this is hugely welcomed and clearly very good news.