Exploring the value of mental health nurses working in primary care in England: A qualitative study

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Accessible Summary

What is known on the subject?

What this paper adds to existing knowledge?

What are the implications for practice?


General practice is typically the first point of access to healthcare. This study explores what value a Primary Care Liaison Nurse (PCLN) service, established in 2011, can bring to people with mental health problems in primary care.


Semi-structured interviews were used to elicit participants’ experiences and perspectives on the value of a PCLN service. Participants included ten interviews with seven general practitioners and three senior practitioners working in primary care mental health services. Thematic analysis, based on a 6-phase approach, was used to describe and explore the data collected.


Five main themes were derived from the thematic analysis of the interviews relating to: integration; clinical effectiveness; patient centred care; access; and efficiency.


The study suggests that the PCLN service can improve the quality of care and is generally highly valued by its stakeholders. The study identifies particularly valued elements of the service, including having a duty worker, as well as aspects which could be improved, such as patient criteria.

Implications for practice:

This is a relatively new service and the cost-effectiveness is not yet fully understood; however, commissioners may want to consider the potential benefits of a similar service in their area.

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