Specialisation and marginalisation: How the assertive community treatment debate affects individuals with complex mental health needs
The growth of specialism in a field can be considered a healthy response to emerging evidence, technology and skills, yet it risks creating unhelpful barriers to collaborative working and fragmented patient pathways. Mental health services in England have experienced this tension in recent years through the national implementation of local specialist community teams that aim to reduce the need for in-patient admission through a focus on crisis resolution, early intervention and assertive community treatment (ACT). In response to the results of studies assessing its effectiveness, there has been disinvestment in ACT. This risks marginalising people with severe and complex mental health problems by depriving them and their families of the intensive support they need for successful community living, as well as discouraging researchers from undertaking further high-quality studies that can inform the intelligent evolution of the ACT model within different contexts.