Patients presenting with mixed neurological and psychiatric symptoms have greater access to treatment, thanks to Victoria’s first private neuropsychiatry assessment and management service, operated by Epworth HealthCare.

More than 100 people have been treated by the unit, which started 12 months ago.

The Epworth Neuropsychiatry service treats psychiatric aspects of brain disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury and dementia, where psychiatric symptoms are commonplace and may be one of the first indicators of the disorder.

The Neuropsychiatry Service, located at Epworth Richmond, is managed as part of the mental health service at Epworth Clinic, providing a new pathway for people who are privately insured, compensable or self-funded, reducing the burden on public waitlists.

Epworth Neuropsychiatry care is streamlined, providing a single unit that offers holistic care, with access to neurology, psychiatry, neuropsychology, brain imaging and advanced tests. The service also created the first ever Neuropsychiatry registrar training role approved by the Royal College in a private hospital setting with support from commonwealth funding.

Professor Mark Walterfang said that patients can be seen by a team of specialists while they are an inpatient at Epworth Richmond, months earlier than would normally be possible.

“Often people present with a complex combination of psychological, cognitive and/or neurological symptoms that may indicate underlying neurological or psychiatric illness. They have usually seen a number of specialists on their diagnostic journey – and may still not have received a definitive diagnosis,” Professor Walterfang said.

“During an inpatient stay patients are reviewed by our Neuropsychiatrists, Neurologist, Neuropsychologists and other allied health staff, whilst having access to neuroimaging, advanced blood tests and even a lumbar puncture if required. This is the first service of its kind in Australia, and one of a handful worldwide.”

Previously, all private patients who need inpatient assessment and management were admitted to the state-wide public service; with the new Epworth Neuropsychiatry service, the capacity for inpatient thorough diagnostic neuropsychiatric assessment has been significantly increased for Victorian patients.


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