Image caption, Emily Shepherd speaks to her psychiatrist as part of her treatment at Musgrove Park Hospital in Somerset

Psychiatric patients are being seen and treated more quickly after a hospital and mental health trust began working more closely together, say doctors.

The merger of Musgrove Park Hospital in Somerset with the county mental health trust has helped to cut waiting times for mental health patients.

Emily Shepherd, 30, who has borderline personality disorder (BPD), said she had benefitted from the partnership.

“The treatment I received was a lot more understanding,” she said.

The merger was one of the first such partnerships in the country when it was agreed two years ago, and means hospital staff and psychiatric workers all have the same employer.

Image caption, Ms Shepherd said the treatment she receives now is an improvement on her experience four years ago

Ms Shepherd said she had seen a big difference in the treatment she received now, compared to four years ago when she came to the emergency department at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton.

“I was in a state of crisis. Trying multiple times to end my life. I wasn’t in a good state and I just really wanted some help,” she said.

“I faced quite a lot of stigmatisation and stereotypes from people I knew and medical professionals.

“The treatment I receive now is a lot more understanding. I didn’t feel like they stereotyped me. It’s often seen that people with BPD do things for attention and I didn’t receive that this time, and I was referred immediately.”

Image caption, Dr James Gagg said the partnership helps to save time and resources

Dr James Gagg, the hospital’s clinical director of urgent and emergency care, said a psychiatric liaison team is now based on-site, making it easier to provide treatment to people coming into the emergency department.

He said: “We took over one of the buildings just across the road which has enabled the mental health team to have an acute base working with the emergency department.”

Image caption, Ms Shepherd says her mental health issues were triggered by the breakdown of a relationship

Sonia Samson, service manager for the liaison service, said if a doctor or nurse refers a patient for a mental health assessment they are now seen within the hour, compared to the four-hour target before the merger.

“There’s been a lot of work around speeding that process up,” she added.

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