Consultation-liaison psychiatry has emerged as a significant area of special interest within clinical psychiatry in recent years. It seeks to enhance the quality of psycho-social care of medically ill patients and of their psychological reactions to illness; to provide effective consultations not only with regard to patient management, but also to the complex problems arising where serious medical and psychiatric illness overlap, and to deal with the personal difficulties arising in members of the clinical team caring for the patient. It has an essential contribution to make to the actual practice of holistic, comprehensive health care; rather than just to the airy rhetoric by which whole-person medicine exists in the medical school's prospectus and objectives but not in its wards. We do not teach mere vapid sympathy, but competent psycho-physiological understanding of the patient, and sound communication skills.
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