Consultation-liaison psychiatry had its inception in North America, the term making its first appearance in the 1930s to describe the department at Colorado General Hospital in Denver. As Mayou (1987) points out, when comparing British and American liaison services, the role, boundaries, and organisation of this subspecialty are very different in the two countries. Money and resources do not exist in Britain within the National Health Service to provide the extent of involvement liaison psychiatry now enjoys with the general wards of many American hospitals. Thomas (1985) refers to basic differences between the countries. He points out that few British district general hospitals have consultation psychiatric units now in place and that the theoretical background of psychiatrists in the two countries are different. In addition, he suggests that there may well be differences in the referral patterns and expectations with regard to psychiatric consultation requirements of general hospital doctors in the two health care systems.
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