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A recent report looking into care for people with schizophrenia and psychosis across the country made 42 separate recommendations for improving services.

When the Schizophrenia Commission published its findings, its Chair – Professor Sir Robin Murray – said that people with this ‘Abandoned Illness’ were being ‘let down by the system’.

However, ²gether’s Medical Director Dr Paul Winterbottom, said: “Locally, we already have the vast majority of the recommendations in place and are continuing to develop our services to meet the need.

“We are reinvesting in mental health services and the care we provide is aligned with best practice and among the best in the UK.”

Some of the areas the report highlighted are:

· Early intervention

We see this as crucial to improving outcomes and our dedicated early intervention service called GRiP – Gloucestershire Recovery in Psychosis – offers a variety of interventions for 14-35 year olds – a group who are at risk of developing first episode psychosis. These interventions include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Family Work, Medication Initiation, and support with accessing practical needs such as employment/ occupation, benefits, sport and exercise, and education.

· Acute inpatient care

Wotton Lawn Hospital, our 88 bed Acute Mental Health Hospital near the centre of Gloucester, received a Star Award in 2008 and at that time was only the third NHS Hospital in the UK to receive the honour.

· A set of values

With our service users and carers we have developed two separate charters that help reinforce a set of values for the care and treatment people can expect to receive with us. These are promoted across the trust and through publicity and marketing to our service users and the wider public.

· Promotion of well being

Through our Let’s Talk service and social inclusion work we promote wellbeing advice, encourage those experiencing early symptoms of mental ill health to seek support and promote our services and other appropriate organisations providing advice and support.

· Supporting carers

We routinely carry out carers’ assessments to understand their needs and offer any support and advice necessary.

· Medication reviews

Patients are regularly given information on their medication along with reminder cards suggesting questions they may want to ask their clinician about the medication they are on, so they can make fully informed decisions.

· Smoking cessation provision

We work with our local Director of Public Health to ensure that there is a targeted smoking cessation programme to support and encourage service users to give up smoking.

· Physical health considerations

The Making Every Contact Count initiative gives us an enhanced focus on physical health at every possible opportunity. Service users are given help and advice to improve their overall health by, for example, eating more healthily, getting more exercise and reducing their alcohol consumption.

Above all, we aim to provide the best care for our service users focusing on the best form of treatment. This might be access to talking therapies, help to ensure service users can remain close to their family and friends rather than in hospital through recovery and crisis home treatment teams, and, where appropriate, the best environment in our hospital and appropriate medication to help stabilise their symptoms.