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MENTAL HEALTH | Spring 2019
Welcome to this special edition of the Oxford AHSN newsletter. This is the first one we have devoted to just one topic: mental health. Further single issue updates will follow during 2019/20 covering other areas where we also have lots to tell, including primary care, maternity and care homes.

We value your feedback on this approach


Mental Health is one of the priority areas identified in the NHS Long Term Plan published in January 2019.

Fran ButlerIt was already a priority for the Oxford AHSN which has had a strong mental health focus from our early days in 2013. Last year we established a mental health programme headed by Fran Butler.

She is working with a wide range of partners including NHS trusts, integrated care systems, industry and other AHSNs on wide-ranging projects, identifying and spreading innovations across the Oxford AHSN region and beyond and connecting innovators to potential sources of funding.

This newsletter captures some of this work including
sleep improvement, emergency department frequent attenders needing mental healthcare, early intervention in psychosis, dementia training, psychological therapies for people with long-term conditions and support for GPs, schools and service users.


Paddle app steers people with anxiety and depression towards better mental health

A smartphone app is being developed to strengthen the support available to people during treatment for anxiety and depression and after they are discharged.

paddle logoThe aim is to prevent relapse and reduce use of other primary care and community mental health services, especially in the first six months.

Patients have helped design the therapy support and follow-up app which is called ‘Paddle’. It was developed by the Anxiety and Depression Network which had been looking at ways to provide better support to patients following a course of psychological treatment provided by NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services.

The need was voiced by members of the network’s patient forum and demonstrated in pilot projects which showed that more than a third of patients seek additional support in the first six months following the end of treatment.

The app allows patients to carefully store all they learn during their therapeutic journey, as well as how to keep themselves well afterwards. It is currently being tested and will be piloted with staff and patients shortly.

Contact Ineke Wolsey for more information

Sleepio logo

Free online support programme aims to improve sleep for thousands

Sleepio is an online support programme to address insomnia available free without referral or prescription to all living in the Oxford AHSN region. It aims to improve sleep through an approach based on cognitive behavioural therapy instead of sleeping tablets.

This is the first large-scale NHS rollout of direct access digital medicine. It is led by the Oxford AHSN and funded by Innovate UK. Partners include Big Health (the company behind Sleepio), major employers, GP surgeries and other primary care professionals. Read more here

Access Sleepio for free and find out your person sleep score at:

Contact Matt Williams for more information

Addressing mental health needs of people who attend A&E frequently

In September 2018 the Oxford AHSN received funding from the Health Foundation for a project to improve care for Emergency Department (ED) frequent attenders who need mental healthcare. Since then we have been seeking to identify best practice and working with service users to explore how EDs can best assess their needs. We are working with clinical lead Dr Deon Louw, an ED consultant from Oxford University Hospitals. Progress so far will be discussed at an event on 2 May bringing together teams from across the Thames Valley. 

Contact Fran Butler for more information
Health Foundation logoThis project is part of the Health Foundation’s Q Exchange programme. The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and healthcare for people in the UK.

How early intervention in psychosis services make a difference

Click on the photo above to watch Cathy, 56, tell her personal story and the role of early intervention in psychosis services.
Find out more about the Epic Minds initiative

Helping care homes provide quality care for residents living with dementia

A high proportion (60-80%) of people living in care homes have dementia and they may also have coexisting mental and physical health needs. These complex needs are not always recognised.

In 2016 the Oxford AHSN formed a best practice network of healthcare professionals who support care homes in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire in providing quality care to people living with dementia. They meet regularly to share best practice and support each other to implement initiatives. A series of workshops have taken place including management of diabetes and nutrition and sensory impairment. The network received funding from Health Education England.

Read more

People with long-term conditions benefit from psychological therapies 

A rigorous evaluation of clinical and health economics outcomes demonstrated the value of a new treatment made available to patients suffering with long-term physical health conditions and comorbid depression/anxiety.

Initial analysis published at the end of 2018 showed an average of £1,870 per patient saving to the health system over two years where patients had integrated physical/psychological treatment. Further research is due to be published shortly.

Improving quality and safety in transfers of people with psychosis

A project to improve quality and safety during patient transfers is being developed by the Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) Thames Valley network. It is examining incidents to establish best practice and develop and embed new procedures.

Clinicians, commissioners, managers and researchers from Berks, Bucks, Oxon and Milton Keynes first came together in 2014 to improve quality of EIP services. Their early work used data from electronic health records from 2010-2013 to show that areas with early intervention in psychosis had better outcomes and lower patient costs across health, social care and the welfare system.

The group has continued to meet every two months to share best practice and collaborate to tackle issues. In 2018, the group chose to work in collaboration with the Oxford Patient Safety Collaborative on improving the safety of patients during transfers between teams following several cases where individuals had moved from other regions into the Thames Valley with little or no planning leading to near misses.

Likewise, when people from the Thames Valley moved away – to attend university, for example – some regions did not accept referrals in a timely coordinated manner, again increasing the risk to individuals and their families. 
Read more

News from our partners

New counselling service for young people is an online information, advice and counselling service for children and young people aged 11-19. Set up in October 2018 Kooth is available in Buckinghamshire, East Berkshire and many other parts of England.

Elements include real-time chat messaging and support from psychotherapists and qualified counsellors. Many young people access Kooth after receiving information sent to schools.

In Bucks the first four months saw more than 300 young people register with the service. There are now over 2,000 forum threads and articles covering a wide range of topics including sex, relationships, family issues, alcohol, drugs, exam stress, peer pressure and anxiety.
Find out more

SHaRON: online peer support helps people with mental health conditions

Support Hope and Recovery Online Network (SHaRON) is an online peer support ehealth system for people with mental health conditions. It was designed by patients and clinicians at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to connect individuals to each other and their care providers 24/7 because health issues can develop at any time. It also provides support post-discharge. SHaRON is a secure, clinically moderated social networking platform. Initially developed for people with eating disorders, it now includes many more mental health conditions and it's spreading, including to Oxford Health. SHaRON now has 2,800 users. In a recent survey more than 80% said they found it helpful in their recovery.
Find out more

Mental health support teams in schools

One in ten children and young people (aged 5-16) have a diagnosable mental health problem, yet 70% of them have not had early interventions. NHS England and other partners are delivering a transformation programme to establish new teams  in schools and colleges. Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West are among the initial trailblazing areas. They are being supported by the NHS Thames Valley Strategic Clinical Network and will offer treatment, including cognitive behavioural therapy.
Read more

Almost 500 GPs attend psychiatry study days

The NHS Thames Valley Strategic Clinical Network, in partnership with the University of Oxford, developed a programme of psychiatry study days across the Thames Valley in 2018/19 to support primary care clinical practice and share ways of enhancing care. In total nearly 500 GPs have attended the sessions on a variety of topics including suicide prevention, perinatal mental health, medication management and prescribing. The study days also included a specific focus on older people and children/young people.
Read the programme evaluation here

Thank you

We hope you’ve found our first single issue newsletter an informative read. You can feedback below. Follow the latest mental health developments via our mental health Twitter account: @MH_OxfordAHSN We also welcome your ideas for other single topic newsletters. Our next regular newsletter will be published in early April.

Contact Us

Oxford Academic Health Science Network, Magdalen Centre North, Oxford Science Park, Oxford, OX4 4GA, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1865 784944


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Oxford AHSN · Oxford Academic Health Science Network · Oxford Science Park · Oxford, Oxfordshire OX4 4GA · United Kingdom