The Wessex Mental Health, Dementia and Neurological Conditions Clinical Network was established in 2013 to develop a system wide approach to designing and maintaining Mental Health, Dementia and Neurology services across Wessex. As a Network we are aware of the significant healthcare challenges that mental ill  health, dementia and neurological conditions present, and we acknowledge that there is still much to be done to improve clinical outcomes and experience for patients and their families and carers.

The raised national profile of these conditions provides  an opportunity for service users, providers or commissioners to work together to reshape pathways, refocus investment, and deliver improved services. Our aspiration is for everyone to live longer healthier lives, and to make responsible decisions about the use of the resources available to us to achieve this end.


Aims of the Network

  • To develop the network to be a driver for transformational change across the health system in Wessex
  • To develop ways of working to increase the sphere of influence for change
  • To develop relationships with commissioners in order to inform good practice and develop services
  • To better recognise the wider areas of work
  • To drive service transformation through an effective and deliverable work plan
  • For the Network to seek evidenced solutions from outside Wessex to share across Wessex organisations and inform the addressing of local opportunity and challenge


To deliver the aims of the Network we will

  • Identify opportunities and challenges
  • Horizon scan to be better prepared for future delivery including the sharing of trend data and trajectories
  • Maintain oversight of the delivery of projects and solutions agreed across the region
  • Support local governance frameworks
  • Share and learn from intelligent and timely assurance data, and delivery plans


System wide transformation

The Clinical Network utilises clinical leadership and expertise to support system wide transformation. The recent integration of the Clinical Network with the Operations and Delivery team has improved our ability to meet our aims.

We work with local organisations including commissioners and providers to understand the current systems and opportunities for pathway, service and system transformation.  Wider working with partner organisations including Health Education Wessex, the Collaboration for leadership in Applied Health Research (CLAHRC) and the Academic Health Science Network ensures a whole system approach. We also work with patients and carers and the groups which represent them to ensure that wherever possible a co-productive methodology is adopted.

Mental Health

One in four people in the UK will suffer a mental health problem in the course of a year. Mental Health includes a range of conditions from mild depressions to serious mental illness.  It is known that marginalised groups are  at greater risk of mental ill health and there is an acknowledged difficulty with engaging with people from minority groups. Physical and mental health are closely linked. People with severe and prolonged mental illness are at risk of dying on average 15 to 20 years earlier than the general population.

 Key areas of interest

  • Improving Access to Psychological Therapies
  • Early Intervention in Psychosis
  • Adult Crisis care pathways
  • Parity of esteem
  • Digital transformation
  • Rehabilitation and Out of area placements


Programme areas

•The development of a Strategic Vision for MHDN across Wessex. This document has been used by our Sustainability and transformation Partners (STP’s) as a blueprint to ensure that individuals
  • Have a timely and appropriate diagnosis and access to evidence based care
  • Have access to services that are commissioned to provide care in the most appropriate setting by the best person
  • Have a needs assessment and an agreed holistic care plan
  • Have access to information on self-management
  • Will receive personalised care agreed with them and designed to optimise their outcomes and experience
  • Will have information to be able to access opportunities in clinical research and innovation in care
  • Receives care from a skilled workforce delivering holistic and integrated services
•Expansion of the  dementia based  WessexhealthLines  website to include mental health services including crisis care and parity of esteem.
•Raising awareness  of  current research projects in mental health neurology and dementia using the WessexhealthLines  website.
•Establishing the IAPT Network for interested parties in the commissioning and provision and support of IAPT services.
•Supporting and developing the EIP Network to bring together professionals to share best practice and develop local services


Dementia is a progressive disease and is one of the foremost public health challenges worldwide. It is a disease associated mainly with older people and it is anticipated that the disease prevalence will increase since improved healthcare and better standards of living are enabling people to live for longer.

 The term ‘dementia’ describes a set of symptoms that include loss of concentration and memory problems, mood and behaviour changes and problems with communicating and reasoning. These symptoms occur when the brain is damaged by certain diseases (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease), the occurrence of a series of small strokes (vascular dementia) or the presence of other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.


Programme areas

  • Development of  WessexhealthLines . A web based resource to allow the sharing of service improvements across Wessex.
  • Development of the Dementia Diagnosis  Toolkit designed to support GPs to make a quality and timely diagnosis of dementia for care home residents
  • Hosting of the Dementia forum for Wessex mental health commissioners
  • Capacity modelling project to develop a mathematical simulation model using local data to understand the impact of new waiting times standards.
  • Development of a comprehensive Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) self assessment tool to understand the confidence of commissioning services along the length of the Dementia Well Pathway and supporting systems.

In 2013 the Clinical Network had a specific responsibility for neurology. Following a national review the remit of the Clinical Networks was realigned to support the delivery of the NHS England priorities.  However neurological pathways and services remain  a source of shared learning in the ongoing design and management of long term mental health condition s.

Programme areas

  • The Clinical network has invested in a Community Neurology Long Term Conditions programme which is being delivered through the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (NIHR CLAHRC) Wessex. This will provide the vehicle for developing neurology services as part of the long term conditions  to improve the understanding of disease-specific critical events and patients’ post-diagnostic needs so that the right resources and interventions can be provided at the right time and in the right place to best assist them.
  • Development of the Rehabilitation, reablement, recovery and early supported discharge and survivorship  strategic vision to ensure that  high quality specialist rehabilitation improves patient outcomes for the clinical conditions of neurology, stroke, major trauma, complex musculoskeletal and cancer
  • Advice and Guidance project to understand the effectiveness and impact of alternative pathways for the management of neurological advice and headache management.