Liaison psychiatry services in Ireland are currently unequally distributed. In the absence of a specialist liaison psychiatry team, general adult psychiatrists may provide a consultation service to their local hospital. Demographic and clinical characteristics pertaining to all psychiatric consultations at the Louth County Hospital were collected over 12 months to examine one such local service and to highlight the challenges of this mode of service delivery.
A total of 232 consults were audited. the most frequent reasons for referral were assessment following deliberate self-harm (38%), affective symptoms (28%) and alcohol or substance misuse (25%). This differs from documented referral patterns to specialist liaison teams. Referring physicians had a low diagnostic ‘hit-rate’ with respect to affective disorders. Difficulties in service provision included poor communication by referring teams and time constraints due to other sectoral commitments.
Refinements to service delivery may be beneficial in managing the workload more effectively. Priority should be placed on fostering communication with non-psychiatric colleagues.