Background: Improved detection and clear referral systems are prerequisites for effective early intervention. Although specialist early intervention services are being introduced in Britain, changes are still required in the practice of existing primary and secondary care staff. Aims: This paper describes an exploratory evaluation of a partnership approach to help existing staff adapt their practice to support early intervention. Methods: Policies and procedures of the service described were compared systematically with national policy guidance. Structured interviews with 53 primary care and mental health staff were used to explore changes in their knowledge, attitudes and professional practice. Results: The service model complied with most UK national policy requirements for early intervention. There was increased awareness and knowledge of early psychosis and improved detection, assessment and intervention practice on the part of primary and secondary care staff. Conclusion: It appears possible to influence the practice of existing staff to deliver early intervention using an economical service model. Declaration of interest: This work was supported by educational grants from Janssen-Cilag/Organon and Lilly.