St Lukes in snow

Congratulations to Exeter HS&DR Evidence Synthesis Centre for two successful deliveries!

Exeter HS&DR Evidence Synthesis Centre successfully delivers twice on the same day

A review team based within ESMI, which conducts systematic reviews to directly inform important and urgent aspects of NHS organisation and delivery, has delivered its first review as part of this national long-term contract. The rapid systematic review, which we were only tasked by the HS&DR Programme in January, was to inform the work of the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act.

The final report of our rapid review – conducted in just six weeks – was sent to the Department of Health and Social Care in March. It summarised and synthesised evidence from twenty qualitative studies about different peoples’ experiences of how relatives and carers are involved in decisions and care of people detained under the Act without their agreement.

The 1983 Mental Health Act provides a rigid mechanism for choosing which family member should be formally involved in care and hospital admission decisions of someone suffering acute mental distress. This sometimes creates problems in identifying who should fill this ‘nearest relative’ statutory role, contacting them, and also raises questions about whether they are the best person to be involved in someone’s care or share confidential clinical information with.

Despite amendments to this Act for England and Wales in 2007, and a different approach adopted in Scotland in 2003, there are still widespread calls to modernise the legislation in England & Wales. Our review pulled together various stakeholder perspectives on the perceived challenges and problems of the current legislation in England, plus advantages and disadvantages of adopting similar legislation to Scotland.

Liz Shaw, lead author of the review, said “The team thoroughly enjoyed being part of this review. This fascinating topic meant that we had to familiarise ourselves with some pretty complex legislation, alongside condensing a process which would usually take us about 8 months, into a really short space of time. It was a huge challenge, but very exciting. We relished the opportunity to collate the views of people who have been admitted to hospital and those who support them for a report which will be used to inform the care and support they receive. We are hopeful that our contribution will have a meaningful impact on the lives of people who have been involuntarily detained under the Mental Health Act.”

As well as getting the Final Report to the DHSC on time, we are pleased to share that one of the main researchers on this project, Michael Nunns, became a dad for the first time on the same day!! Congratulations from everyone in ESMI to the whole family.

The registered protocol for the systematic review is on PROSPERO. The report of the rapid systematic review will be appearing in the NIHR Journals Library series Health Services & Delivery Research in due course.