To improve the quality of written communication between general practitioners (GPs) and community mental health team (CMHT) members concerning patients newly referred to two inner-city CMHTs. Following a benchmark audit of a random sample of referral and assessment letters, locally agreed good practice protocols were shared widely, accompanied by a dissemination and implementation strategy.
Significant improvements occurred in both GP and CMHT letters; these were most dramatic after 1 year, but tailed off considerably in the second year despite continued efforts to implement the protocols' standards.
Planned dissemination and implementation strategies can help to improve routine clinical communication between CMHTs and GPs through the use of good practice protocols, thus improving shared working between primary and secondary care providers.
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