Key messages

  • The Chief Psychiatrist supports continuous improvement in mental health services and promotes the rights of people receiving these services.
  • The Chief Psychiatrist provides advice to services informed by clinical audits and reviews.
  • The Chief Psychiatrist provides clinical leadership through clinical guidelines and specialist clinical information, training and education.
  • The Chief Psychiatrist may investigate mental health services if they believe any person’s health, safety or wellbeing is at risk of harm.

The Chief Psychiatrist provides clinical leadership and advice to mental health service providers, promotes continuous improvement in the quality and safety of mental health services and promotes the rights of people receiving these services.

This is achieved through monitoring services and providing advice informed by clinical audits and reviews. The Chief Psychiatrist also develops clinical guidelines, specialist clinical information, training and education.

Clinical reviews and practice audits

Clinical reviews and practice audits are conducted by the Chief Psychiatrist and authorised officers as part of quality improvement.

Clinical reviews involve visiting mental health service providers to evaluate service provision against defined criteria and standards. Clinical reviews identify processes and practices that could improve the quality and safety of mental health services.

Clinical practice audits involve collecting and analysing information from mental health service providers about a particular practice or matter. These audits identify issues or trends that can inform standards, guidelines or practice directions to improve the quality and safety of mental health services.

Consumer and carer perspectives are included in all clinical practice audits and reviews. They help inform and shape practice across service delivery, planning, development and review.

Information collected or created during a clinical practice audit or clinical review is not publicly disclosed, unless the Chief Psychiatrist believes it is necessary to prevent serious or imminent harm to a person’s health or safety. Information that does not identify a person may be disclosed.

Investigations

The Chief Psychiatrist may conduct an investigation into the mental health services provided by a mental health service provider if he or she believes that any person’s health, safety or wellbeing is at risk of harm. The Chief Psychiatrist may conduct an investigation on their own initiative or at the request of the Secretary.

The Chief Psychiatrist will report on the findings of the investigation and may make recommendations or directions to the mental health service provider to improve the quality and safety of services and assist the provider to comply with relevant standards, guidelines, codes of practice and law.

After receiving a report, the mental health service provider must provide a written response to the Chief Psychiatrist that sets out actions that have been, or will be, taken to implement the recommendations or directions.

Second psychiatric opinion

Patients can seek a second psychiatric opinion from a psychiatrist and this must be considered by the authorised psychiatrist. The authorised psychiatrist may change the patient’s treatment following the second opinion, however they do not have to.

A patient can apply to the Chief Psychiatrist for a review of their treatment if the authorised psychiatrist does not adopt any or all of the recommendations in the second opinion report. The Chief Psychiatrist may recommend changes to the treatment and can direct an authorised psychiatrist to make changes to the patient’s treatment if necessary.

Monitoring

The Chief Psychiatrist will receive regular reports from mental health service providers about: