Consultation-liaison to general practitioners coming of age: the South Australian psychiatrists' experience
Objective: To evaluate outcomes and satisfaction with a consultationliaison service to general practitioners (GPs), provided by a cohort of private and public psychiatrists. Methods: All SA psychiatrists were invited to participate in a project, funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, which was operational for 9 months. Participating psychiatrists provided telephone advice in urgent cases to GPs, and where agreed by GP, patient and psychiatrist, a one-off assessment with rapid feedback to the GP. Evaluation was carried out by external evaluators on satisfaction rates of psychiatrists, and barriers to the use of such a service, and the project officers collected information on usage and satisfaction rates by GPs. Results: Thirty-one of the 203 SA psychiatrists undertook a 2 hour training package, with 27 joining the project and 100% of those completing the project. Both GPs and psychiatrists expressed high rates of satisfaction with this mode of service, the GPs reported increases in knowledge and confidence, and the psychiatrists enjoyed the consultant role. Conclusions: A shift towards a consultation-liaison mode with GPs has produced positive benefits for GPs and psychiatrists, and ways to sustain this should be explored. Effects on outcomes for consumers using this approach need evaluation.