Remote consultations in community mental health: A qualitative study of clinical teams

Robyn McCarron, Anna Moore, Ilana Foreman, Emily Brewis, Olivia Clarke, Abby Howes, Katherine Parkin, Diana Luk, Maisie Satchwell Hirst, Emilie Sach, Aimee Shipp, Lorna Stahly, Anupam Bhardwaj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Responding to COVID-19, community mental health teams in the UK NHS abruptly adopted remote consultations. Whilst they have demonstrable effectiveness, efficiency, and economic benefits, questions remain around the acceptability, feasibility and medicolegal implications of delivering community mental health care remotely. Aim: To explore perceived advantages, challenges, and practice adaptations of delivering community mental health care remotely. 

Methods: Ten community mental health teams in an NHS trust participated in a service evaluation about remote consultation. Fifty team discussions about remote consultation were recorded April–December 2020. Data analysis used a framework approach with themes being coded within a matrix. 

Results: Three major horizontal themes of operations and team functioning, clinical pathways, and impact on staff were generated, with vertical themes of advantages, challenges, equity and adaptations. 

Discussion: Remote consultation is an attractive model of community mental healthcare. Clinical staff note benefits at individual (staff and service-user), team, and service levels. However, it is not perceived as a universally beneficial or practical approach, and there are concerns relating to access equality. 

Implications for Practice: The suitability of remote consultation needs to be considered for each service-user, clinical population and clinical role. This requires a flexible and hybrid approach, attuned to safeguarding equality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Early online date11 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Mar 2024

Data Availability Statement

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request


  • communication
  • community mental health services
  • digital technology
  • health equity
  • health services administration
  • mental health
  • psychiatry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health


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