Sometimes an idea comes along and you think ‘why has no-one done this before?’ – because it just seems so obvious. One such idea is the East of England mental health clinical network, which has been set up to share best practice in mental health service improvement and spread innovation to strengthen patient safety.
It is said to be the first in the country, which is surprising to me. Promoting best practice has been a goal of mental health services for many years, so why something like this, where all of the mental health NHS Trusts in the East of England come together to share knowledge and insight, hasn’t happened before is a bit of a mystery.
But sharing best practice is something that mental health services – and wider social care services, to be honest – are traditionally not very good at. Anecdotally I often hear about good practice going on in one PCT (for example) but the one next door has no idea about it. Silos have grown up over the years and breaking them down can be very hard.
It’s frustrating because there are some great initiatives around the country that could be replicated elsewhere, if only people knew about them.
But all too often they don’t, so a network where professionals come together, with the express purpose of sharing this kind of information seems ideal.
The launch event for the network included a range of presentations and clinical practice workshops providing delegates with the opportunity to learn from research evidence and from practical examples of new ways of improving the quality of mental health care.
This is also good to see; with the number of conferences on the wane thanks to the recession and the cutbacks that all health services face – with discretionary spending such as conference attendance usually one of the first things to be cut – opportunities for sharing best practice can be limited. But events on a smaller, regional scale like this could be easier to justify to the purse-string holders, especially if they are of direct, practical value.
So, this initiative in the East of England is to be applauded and, hopefully, it will provide a blueprint for other areas to come together to share best practice and improve patient care.