The home treatment service in central Manchester was established in 1997 to provide an alternative to in-patient care: referrals were only taken from secondary care services. In order to meet national crisis resolution and home treatment (CRHT) activity targets, referral routes were extended to primary care from 2008. To examine the impact of these changes, details of all referrals to the service were collected for a 6-month period in 2008/2009. Referral sources, demographic details and diagnosis were compared with similar data from 2005.
There was a marked increase in the number of individuals accepted by the service in 2008/2009 with a corresponding reduction in duration of contact. Primary care referrals were not accepted in 2005 but accounted for 20% of people treated in 2008/2009. This was mirrored by a change in diagnostic profile, with the proportion of individuals with mild to moderate illness increasing from 25 to 50%. In 2005, 70% of individuals treated had complex care needs compared with 39% in 2008/2009.
The strict imposition of numerical activity targets can have a significant impact on service delivery. Although more individuals have been treated under the new arrangements, the emphasis has shifted away from the intensive care of those with severe mental illness.
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