A NEW mental health facility in Oxford will help improve care for patients who have co-existing psychiatric and medical conditions.

The Oxford Psychological Medicine Centre at the John Radcliffe Hospital will provide a dedicated space for clinical psychiatrists and psychologists at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) as well as researchers from Oxford University.

The centre, based in the hospital’s west wing, will house the trust’s clinical psychology team for adults, the clinical psychology team for children, and the clinical psychiatry team together with a university research team for the first time.

The new centre will provide service, teaching, and research space for each of the specialist teams.

Speaking at the opening on Tuesday, trust lead for psychological medicine professor Michael Sharpe said: “Our teams have worked with the trust management to create this centre.

“Oxford Psychological Medicine is already regarded as a beacon of integrated mental and physical care nationally and internationally, and the creation of this centre will enable us to do even more to help our patients.”

Psychological medicine refers to the psychological and psychiatric care of the medically ill.

As well as providing learning for medical students, the centre’s teaching programme will also be used by trust nurses, doctors and other staff, while the research programme will help deliver clinical advances to help people with co-existing psychiatric and medical conditions.

Once such ongoing projects include the HOME study - a trial of enhanced psychiatric care looking at the length of time inpatients spend on a hospital ward.

In recent years OUH has been at the forefront of integrating psychiatrists and psychologists into its medical team at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

The Oxford Psychological Medicine service is seen as an international leader in the integration of physical and mental health care for its patients and last month won the prestigious Team of the Year award from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

The awards mark the highest level of achievement within the field of psychiatry.

The centre was opened by OUH chairman Dame Fiona Caldicott who has in the past spoken of the need to better integrate psychiatric care and medical treatment.

Speaking in November she praised the impact of the joined up way of working: “The team here are our staff, they work with our staff, our staff know them; they’re involved in training our staff in how to deal with people with psychological problems and it’s quite different experience for both the patient and the staff.”