To determine if a consultation/liaison mental health clinic in primary care as proposed for Vision for Change, The Primary Care Strategy and the Department of Health is an efficient model of delivering mental health care in Ireland.
Methods: The pattern of service use and the clinical characteristics of new patients attending a pilot consultation/liaison clinic in a local primary care centre were studied.
Results: During the first 16 months of this clinic 1.2% of patients did not attend the initial assessment in the liaison clinic versus 29.75% in the regular Outpatients Department (OPD). Less than one in five (17.1%) required a follow-up review with the clinician in the consultation/liaison clinic compared to almost all patients first seen in OPD secondary care (96.6%). A small minority of patients (6.1%) needed referral to secondary care due to the complexity of their presentation.
Conclusions: A consultation/liaison mental health clinic in primary care results in an efficient use of manpower resources due to the low Did Not Attend (DNA) rates and low proportion of formal referrals to secondary care. As patients seem to favour this type of setting, over traditional outpatient departments, a move towards consultation/liaison clinics in the primary care team should be considered.