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Processing referals

This area is currently being updated and may not reflect the most up to date information. 

Processing referrals

All referrals will be screened for appropriateness and urgency, at which point factors such as severity, duration, complexity, likelihood of response to available treatments, and likelihood of engagement may be considered. Further information may be sought from a referrer or family if necessary.

Level 1 – Emergency – to be seen same day

Please note that as a community based service we are unable to deal with acute emergency situations. Patients who are actively suicidal, exhibiting life threatening self-harming behaviour or are acutely psychotic are emergencies. In these cases, the child/young person should be referred directly to A&E for same day, urgent assessment.

Staff are very willing to discuss with referrers whether or not cases should be considered as emergencies.

Level 2 – Urgent assessment – to be seen within 5 working days

Where there is concern about suicidal risk or where the young person presents with symptoms suggestive of significant psychiatric disorder, cases are considered for urgent assessment. In addition, consideration is given to the level of risk, distress, impairment, symptom severity and other contextual factors in determining priority.

Significant psychiatric disorders which will require urgent assessment include:-

  • Symptoms suggestive of Psychosis

  • Attempted or threatened suicide

  • Symptoms of Anorexia nervosa with any of the following features: rapid or severe weight loss, very low calorie intake for more than 5 days, deliberate self harm

Level 3 – priority assessment – to be seen within 4 weeks


Where serious psychiatric, emotional or behavioural concerns exist and/ or delaying an assessment is likely to result in or contribute to significant deterioration, a referral will be prioritised for assessment eg:

    • Moderate to severe depression
    • Severe anxiety
    • Severe or prolonged adjustment difficulties e.g. abnormal grief reactions or post-traumatic stress disorder
    • Deliberate self-harm not deemed to be an emergency
    • Obsessive compulsive disorder

Level 4 – Routine – to be seen within 11 weeks

We aim to see all accepted referrals within 11 weeks of referral in accordance with Department of Health guidance. Most are seen far sooner than this. Accepted referrals include persistent and moderate/severe difficulties related to:-

  • Attention/hyperactivity problems such as ADHD
  • Autistic spectrum disorder (autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and other pervasive developmental disorders)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive compulsive behaviour
  • Post traumatic stress
  • Difficulties with weight and eating
  • Social and communication difficulties
  • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • School attendance difficulties where a clear mental health problem is likely
  • Mental health difficulties associated with chronic physical illness
  • Physical symptoms thought likely to arise from psychological causes
  • Enduring and complex emotional and/or behavioural problems arising from family or environmental circumstances
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