Emergency and paediatric liaison service

Emergency service

Our CAMHS emergency service helps young people in crisis. These are young people who may have thoughts regarding ending their lives, who have taken overdoses or tried in other ways to significantly harm themselves. We occasionally see young people in crises due to psychosis (hearing voices, having unusual abnormal beliefs and behaving bizarrely) or with significant distress or harm associated with other mental health disorders.

These young people are usually assessed in our accident and emergency department. Following assessment they may either be discharged or admitted to our paediatric ward. If there are concerns about a young person’s safety on the paediatric ward we will arrange for nurse to be with them at all times or recommend that they remain in A&E.

Following discharge from A&E or the paediatric ward, all young people will be offered a follow up appointment within seven days, either from our service, or their local CAMHS. Very rarely some young people will need to be transferred to in-patient adolescent psychiatric units for further treatment.

What to do in an emergency

If you are concerned that you or your child may be at significant risk of harming themselves, we would advise you to bring your child to your nearest Accident and Emergency department as quickly and safely as possible. This may be by ambulance (ring 999), or if you think they will be less distressed, provided they will be safe, by alternative modes of transport. Young people in crisis should ideally come to hospital with an adult, especially if they are having difficulty keeping themselves safe.

Paediatric liaison service

The CAMHS paediatric liaison service focuses on the mind/body interface. This service offers consultation to a range of referrers at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and occasionally GPs who are working with children and adolescents with acute, chronic or life-limiting physical conditions. We commonly receive referrals from our colleagues in paediatric gastroenterology, diabetes, haemophilia and the neonatal unit. We can offer assessments and therapeutic intervention for anyone referred.

Paediatric liaison service interventions often focus on adaptation to chronic illness for children, young people and families, including the newly diagnosed. This might target the psychological barriers to physical care, psychological management of physical symptoms (eg pain) and bereavement work. 

The CAMHS paediatric liaison service also provides consultation and advice to the adult services in the hospital for patients diagnosed with cancer or other serious illnesses. A parent/carer may wish to access advice/consultation with regard to the possible impact of the illness on their children and to explore ways of communicating about the illness. Referrals typically involve situations where there may be additional psychological issues in the family or where there is an end-of-life aspect to care.

The CAMHS paediatric liaison service is multidisciplinary and provides a range of therapeutic interventions including medical assessments, psychiatric nursing, individual psychological therapies and family work. Consultation, supervision, teaching and training are also provided for therapists/staff within the trust working in paediatric and adult services.

Waiting times are relatively short, with same or next day response to urgent/in-patient referrals.