Responding to coronavirus: information for GPs

In the best interests of the health of all our service users, staff, visitors and the wider public, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services (SPMHS) is currently implementing contingency measures against the potential spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

See our information for GPs below

Over the coming weeks, we will be regularly sharing updates on our latest coronavirus measures and protections on our website and social media channels. Please check our website for guidance and information which will be helpful when you are referring a patient to our services or supporting a patient who is currently attending our services. In the meantime, below you'll find an overview of key updates and measures.

Please note that the following guidelines apply to all of our campuses: locations and contact details can be found here.

  • Who can currently attend our campuses?

    Our campuses will only be open to staff members and service users with a clinical need to be onsite, as advised by their clinician or multidisciplinary team. Please note that we are currently in the process of enabling all clinicians to conduct appointments and groups with service users through video conferencing or Telehealth processes, with guidance on this to be provided to service users by phone and email in advance: more details on this are provided in the questions below.

    We cannot welcome visitors to our campuses at this time. In recognition of these limited visiting opportunities, we encourage service users and their families and friends to explore alternative methods of communication, such as phone calls and video calls.

    Clinical personnel from outside our service - such as ambulance personnel or accompanying nurses - will be admitted to the campus in accordance with our infection control guidance, outlined in the last item of this list of questions. Notification of such personnel attending our campuses is requested in advance, with the personnel requested to leave the campus as soon as they have completed their duties. 

    This arrangement will be under constant review.

  • Are we continuing to admit inpatient service users?

    Yes, we are continuing to accept referrals for inpatient service users.

    We have introduced a home care inpatient package, consisting of the highest levels of one-to-one support provided remotely, to ensure service users receive necessary care and treatment. Service users availing of this package will receive daily or more frequent contact, along with psychopharmacological input arranged in liaison with local pharmacies.  This package will include the following elements:

    1. Assignment to a multidisciplinary team (MDT)
    2. At least daily contact from a member of the MDT by videocall, where available, or, where not, by phone
    3. Participation in an MDT meeting by video link or by phone at least once weekly
    4. Medication and prescribing review with the same frequency as regular inpatients (measures to ensure service users receive their new medication will be enacted)
    5. Appropriate individual therapy sessions with members of the MDT, delivered by video call
    6. Appropriate ongoing psychotherapeutic interventions delivered remotely
    7. 24 hours per day, seven days per week support.

    Due to the spread of COVID-19, all referrals for admission will be offered homecare admissions, with minimal exceptions. This will be discussed in detail with service users, and they will be informed of their options in advance.

    The mental health risk of the service user will always remain a priority, with considerations including clinical risk or the need for treatment which can only be delivered onsite, such as electroconvulsive therapy, being taken into account. Approvals for home care packages will therefore be taken on an individual basis, with all new referrals for inpatient services being reviewed by a consultant psychiatrist and a team of clinical directors to ensure best practice.

  • Can you continue to refer your patients to our services?

    Yes, our Referrals and Admissions Service remains in operation for inpatient and outpatient referrals.

    You can send us online referrals directly from your practice management system; this is a secure and fast way to send referrals and a copy of the referral is automatically saved into your patient's records on your GP Practice System. The process for home care inpatient admissions, outlined above, will be conducted through technological means, using a platform available to both the service user and our staff member.

    Only those referrals whose clinical mental health risk assessment determines it will be physically admitted to hospital. A member of our Referrals and Admissions Service will contact these service users on the day before their admission and will carry out a screening protocol against coronavirus. Any risk factors which may be identified will be discussed and considered with a doctor before their admission.

  • Can you continue to use our online referral system?

    Yes, our online referrals system is continuing to operate. You can send us online referrals directly from your practice management system; this is a secure and fast way to send referrals, and a copy of the referral is automatically saved into your patient's records on your GP Practice System. Easy, step-by-step guides to sending online referrals through HealthOne, Socrates, and HPM can be found here.

  • Are appointments and programmes running?

    Yes, our services and programmes are continuing to run, with contingency measures in place to protect everyone's health and safety.

    As such, we have scaled up technology-mediated interventions for people attending our Dean Clinics and day services; these interventions will be underpinned by rigorous risk-assessment, combined with assessment of suitability for the services we can provide. We will be offering technology-mediated appointments to all service users of our Dean Clinics in the coming days and weeks. All day services will now also be delivered either online or via telephone.

    A member of staff will be in touch with service users ahead of their appointment or session to inform and guide them on this. Instructions on how to take part in the appointment or session through the new technology will also be sent to service users by email

  • Are volunteer support groups running?

    No, all volunteer support group meetings, hosted at both St Patrick's University Hospital in Dublin 8 and St Patrick's, Lucan, have been postponed until further notice. These include Alcoholic Anonymous, LifeRing, Orientation, AL-ANON and ANEW meetings

  • What infection control measures are in place on our campuses?

    Our campuses will only be open to staff members, service users with a clinical need to be onsite, as advised by their clinician or multidisciplinary team, or clinical personnel from outside our service who need to accompany a service user for a limited period.

    Everyone on our campuses should follow the guidelines below.

    • Wash your hands thoroughly before you arrive at the campus
    • Use our hand hygiene gels at the entrance and throughout the campus
    • Identify yourself at the reception desk when you arrive
    • Observe hand hygiene and coughing and sneezing etiquette closely, as promoted by the HSE, throughout your time on the campus
      • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing
      • dispose your used tissues into a bin
      • wash your hands thoroughly after coughing or sneezing
      • wash hands thoroughly before leaving the campus.
    • Follow social distancing measures throughout your time on the campus by keeping a distance of at least one, and preferably two, metres from other people and avoiding physical contact.

    Please note that, when you arrive at the reception desk, you will be asked the three questions below: if you answer positively to any of them, we will be unable to permit entry to the campus.

    • Have you returned to Ireland from any other county (other than Northern Ireland) in the past 14 days?
    • Are you a close contact of a confirmed or suspected case in Ireland?
    • Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms: cough; shortness of breath; breathing difficulties; high temperature?

The decision to enact these measures reflects that our campuses are very busy working centres, with close to 300 inpatient beds between them, hundreds of people attending programmes and appointments on a daily basis, and more than 700 staff working in these locations. At all times, our team takes every necessary precaution to best protect the health and safety of all who come through our doors.