Northern Ireland Releases New Guidance On Mental Health Services

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Health Minister Michael McGimpsey issued new guidance on risk assessment and management in adult mental health services.

The guidance aims to ensure that appropriate systems are in place to manage and support anyone at significant risk who has been in contact with mental health services, including those people who are being treated in the community. New standardised screening and assessment tools will also be piloted to support implementation of the guidance.

Mr McGimpsey said: "This important guidance is the first stage in a comprehensive package which will eventually apply to all mental health and learning disability services, including child and adolescent mental health, addiction and forensic services.

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"Our mental health and learning disability services face significant challenges in managing the risk posed by some service users, often over a long period. Reports on Serious Adverse Incidents by local Trusts and national initiatives aimed at tackling risk led me to establish a regional group to ensure appropriate risk assessment, and management procedures, are in place for this vulnerable group of people.

"A number of independent inquiry reports in recent years have also highlighted certain systems failures within mental health services. This new guidance is aimed at addressing these issues and improving services.

"I am grateful to the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority for its review of Trusts' current procedures and practices in this area, which is also published today and which helped to inform the development of this new guidance."

Tools to implement the guidance aimed at standardising procedures are now to be piloted over a 12 week period in adult mental health services in all five Health and Social Care Trusts.

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