Our multidisciplinary team of experts provides specialist advice and guidance for the pharmacological management and treatment of schizophrenia. We are a research active service and offer opportunities for people to test cutting-edge novel therapies and treatments, translating the latest discoveries into psychosis care. We can also provide assistance with new medicines and non-formulary prescriptions.
People diagnosed with schizophrenia experience a wide range of symptoms which include delusions and hallucinations but also negative symptoms such as lack of motivation and memory problems, as well as anxiety, depression, movement disorders and physical health problems.
The pharmacological treatment of schizophrenia symptoms can be very complex and not all patients respond well to antipsychotics, which can cause significant side effects.
Our specialist service works at the forefront of psychosis research to support the most complex cases which may be resistant to standard treatments. We work with patients to find new routes to recovery, considering all available evidence-based options.
How our service can help
The Cambridge Psychosis Centre offers expert multidisciplinary assessment and guidance for three main phases of the pharmacological treatment of schizophrenia:
- Managing persistent psychotic symptoms
- Treating non-psychotic symptoms
- Minimising side effects
Our full psychiatric assessment includes:
- Personal and family history that might impact symptoms, including trauma and neurodevelopmental comorbidities as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or Asperger’s.
- Medication history including compliance, criteria for drug-resistance and augmentation strategies.
- Comprehensive assessment of non-psychotic symptoms with specific tools: lack of motivation, emotional blunting, memory and attention problems, mood disorders, obsessive-compulsive and anxiety symptoms.
- Evaluation of side effects: movement disorder, metabolic complications, sedation, constipation and hypersalivation.
Following assessment, the team will review the case and produce a full referenced report with treatment recommendations. We will provide assistance for non-formulary treatment and referrals to the clozapine community initiation committee. For selected cases, with prior agreement we will support use of botulin toxin for hypersalivation.
We accept local and regional referrals for clinical assessment and pharmacological recommendations. There are two main routes:
Local referrals for patients in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mental health services
Please email a referral to Emilio.Fernandez@cpft.nhs.uk including patient number, medication (current and past) and the main reason for referral. Call 01223 227500 to discuss any details.
Regional/national referrals for patients in other mental health services
Please email a referral to e.fernandez-Egea@nhs.net for informal queries.
Prior approval will be needed from the relevant Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for a full formal assessment or botulin toxin treatment.
Anyone wishing to take part in a psychosis or schizophrenia research project can contact Emilio.Fernandez@cpft.nhs.uk to find out about suitable studies.
Potential volunteers can also be referred by clinical care teams.
Current research projects
The Cambridge Psychosis Centre runs an active research portfolio of ethically approved studies. Potential volunteers can be referred by their care teams but can also contact the research team directly via Emilio.Fernandez@cpft.nhs.uk.
How do we treat resistant delusions when clozapine is not an option?
This NHS-funded project is assessing the effectiveness of sodium valproate augmentation.
Read the participant information sheet for more information.
What can we do when clozapine is not enough?
This commercial trial will assess if the food supplement Sodium Benzoate can be effective as additional therapy with clozapine for residual symptoms. Find more information here.
Poor motivation is a key problem for people with schizophrenia. We aim to understand the brain mechanism causing this and other negative symptoms. Read the information sheet for more details.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Some people treated with clozapine develop excessive compulsive checking. We aim to understand why is this happening. Please read the information sheet if you would like to volunteer for this study.
Dr Emilio Fernandez-Egea, Clinical Lead
Emilio is a consultant psychiatrist with 20 years of experience in treating people diagnosed with the most severe and complex forms of psychosis and schizophrenia. He conducts research with the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, and is a regional and national mental health research lead.
Emilio is passionate about investigating how to bring the best medication combinations and treatments to ameliorate severe psychotic symptoms and side effects, and helping people achieve the best quality of life while managing complex conditions.