By use of a telephone survey, we aimed to investigate liaison psychiatry services of all 29 general hospitals in Greater London. We specifically enquired about services to accident and emergency (A&E) departments.
We identified wide variations in staffing, working hours and patient groups seen. Fourteen services (48%) worked over 24 h and 4 (14%) had specific A&E teams. Twelve services (41%) had established or planned working links with community crisis services.
Generally staff numbers fell below national recommendations and there were frequent gaps in service provision. The recent focus on emergency care has lead to an increase in A&E services, but there is a risk that liaison psychiatry services for other general hospital patients are being neglected.
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