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AbstractAims and Objectives: The aim of the Depression Advice Clinic (DAC) was to provide timely specialist advice on depression management within a primary care setting for individuals suffering from treatment resistant or recurrent depression. Method(s): The clinic was located in a primary care centre and offered one-off 90 minute assessments to patients referred by their GPs. Patients were seen by a senior psychiatry trainee who conducted a comprehensive psychiatric history, examination, diagnosis and bio-psycho-social formulation. Following discussion with the supervising consultant psychiatrist a letter with recommendations for next step treatments was sent to patient and their GP. The clinic employed one full time senior trainee, a consultant psychiatrist at 12.5% full time equivalent and an administrator at 25% full time equivalent as well as incurring overheads for consultation room rental.
Result(s): During the 12 month operational period 127 referrals were received and 124 assessment appointments were offered. The mean wait for assessment was 23 days (in secondary care this is closer to 70 days) and the completed assessment rate was 92% (in local audit of secondary care services this was 81%). Following initial assessment 96% patients were discharged to their GP with advice on lifestyle, self-care and next step pharmacological and psychotherapeutic management option. 4% of patients were transferred directly to secondary/ tertiary care psychiatry, for reasons including severity, risk or initiation of medications that could not be carried out in primary care (e.g. Lithium). Discussion(s): The DAC achieved its aim of providing timely assessment and advice for people suffering from persistent or recurrent depression with most patients being seen much sooner than they would have had they been referred to secondary care. There were also some surprising, and potentially significant, findings from the clinic: more men were referred to the clinic than would have been expected to be seen in secondary services and one third of patients referred with an existing diagnosis of depression had this diagnosis changed following assessment (primarily to one of the anxiety disorders). Each of the patients referred from the DAC into secondary and tertiary care disclosed that they had made plans to end their life which they had concealed form their families and GPs and that being seen in the clinic had prevented them from acting on their plans. Conclusion(s): Referral rates, completed appointment rates and stakeholder feedback suggest that the DAC was an operationally feasible way of working across primary, secondary and tertiary care, whilst also being acceptable to GPs and patients. It is estimated that the average cost per completed suicide for those of working age in England is 1.67m. Since at least three patients reported that being seen in the clinic had prevented them from ending their lives the DAC was also a cost effective way of decreasing the mortality and morbidity resulting from chronic and recurring depression.