A new approach to research and development (R&D) for mental health services is developing in the North-East, Yorkshire and Humber. It derives from experience with service redesign using the ‘collaborative’ approach developed by the US Institute for Health Improvement. Kennedy & Griffiths (2003) described such an approach involving 37 mental health trusts, each with a multidisciplinary team, with the aim of improving acute in-patient wards. After studying the patient's journey through care they agreed a set of improvement targets that all teams would work to achieve. Progress towards targets was measured and reported by all teams, who met periodically to compare performance and learn from each other. Remarkable energy to achieve objectives was released among front-line staff involved. Focus was sustained on what most concerned and benefited patients. Good ideas and results quickly spread to all these services affecting thousands of patients.
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