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NHS England has an ambition to achieve genuine parity of esteem between physical and mental health by 2020. They are working with commissioners to require that services deliver 10 clinical standards that describe the minimum quality of care for patients admitted urgently or as emergencies on every day of the week.
One of the standards states that people with mental health needs must be assessed within appropriate timescales 24 hours a day, seven days a week:
- within one hour for emergency care needs;
- within the same day for urgent care needs; and
- makes clear that unless the liaison team provides 24 hour cover, there must be effective collaboration between the liaison team and out-of-hours services (e.g. Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Teams, on-call staff, etc.).
By March 2017 all 10 standards should be incorporated into national quality requirements in the NHS Standard Contract with appropriate contractual sanctions in place for non-compliance, as for other high priority service requirements.