Accessing specialist secondary mental health care in the NHS in England requires a referral, usually from primary or acute care. Community mental health teams triage these referrals deciding on the most appropriate team to meet patients needs. Referrals require resource-intensive review by clinicians and often, collation and review of the patient’s history with services captured in their electronic health records (EHR). Triage processes are, however, opaque and often result in patients not receiving appropriate and timely access to care that is a particular concern for some minority and under-represented groups. Our project, funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) will develop a clinical decision support tool (CDST) to deliver accurate, explainable and justified triage recommendations to assist clinicians and expedite access to secondary mental health care. Our proposed CDST will be trained on narrative free-text data combining referral documentation and historical EHR records for patients in the UK-CRIS database. This high-volume data set will enable training of end-to-end neural network natural language processing (NLP) to extract ‘signatures’ of patients who were (historically) triaged to different treatment teams. The resulting algorithm will be externally validated using data from different NHS trusts (Nottinghamshire Healthcare, Southern Health, West London and Oxford Health). We will use an explicit algorithmic fairness framework to mitigate risk of unintended harm evident in some artificial intelligence (AI) healthcare applications. Consequently, the performance of the CDST will be explicitly evaluated in simulated triage team scenarios where the tool augments clinician’s decision making, in contrast to traditional “human versus AI” performance metrics. The proposed CDST represents an important test-case for AI applied to real-world process improvement in mental health. The project leverages recent advances in NLP while emphasizing the risks and benefits for patients of AI-augmented clinical decision making. The project’s ambition is to deliver a CDST that is scalable and can be deployed to any mental health trust in England to assist with digital triage.