Early Intervention in Psychosis

Psychosis is a severe mental illness which affects up to 3% of the population and is associated with significant impairment in social functioning and shorter life expectancy. It is ranked as one of the top causes of disability and most expensive illnesses worldwide through costs related to hospital admissions, physical health co-morbidities and unemployment.

Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) are multi-disciplinary teams set up to seek, identify and reduce treatment delays at the onset of psychosis and promote recovery by reducing the probability of relapse following a first episode of psychosis. Timely access to EIP is shown to have a significant long-term impact on the lives and livelihood of individuals with psychosis and their families.

NHS England’s aspiration is that at least 56% of people aged 14-65 who are experiencing their first episode of psychosis should start treatment within two weeks and 25% of EIP service providers to achieve Level 3 and above assessed by the National Clinical Audit of Psychosis (NCAP) and in accordance with NICE guidelines for psychosis and schizophrenia.

Alongside a 60% national increase in access to Individual Placement Support (IPS) services, a voluntary scheme currently being rolled out to 28 new local NHS areas, meaning eight out of ten parts of England will have access to the programme.  Access is expected to double to 20,000 people per year by 2020-21 and will continue to expand as part of the NHS Long Term Plan – helping 55,000 people each year by 2023-24.  Patients hoping to get back into work can be referred directly by their doctor or another mental health professional and can also self-refer.

Key findings of the South EIP Programme Annual Report during 2018-19 noted:

  • On average in the South of England, 83% of referrals have been seen within two weeks of referral
  • 29% of people with psychosis who access EIP have received two or more sessions of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Psychosis
  • 33% of people with psychosis who were unemployed received IPS to get back into paid employment.

The South West Mental Health Clinical Network works closely with the regional team to deliver the national ambitions for EIP services. Supporting and encouraging sharing best practice across the region via the Early Intervention in Psychosis Network which comprises of a clinical lead, service users and carers, commissioners of early intervention in psychosis services, and providers, enables the group to inform the work programme of the clinical network, by providing a steer to useful and relevant topics.