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Dr Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Mental Health, explains why it is so crucial we get emergency mental health care right:
I am delighted the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat launches today.
It has been created in partnership with committed leaders from across health and social care, police and justice, local government and housing. It is a call to action and driven by the needs and views of people using mental health services, and their families and carers.
This initiative brings us a big step closer to ensuring that everyone’s mental and physical health is equally valued by the NHS. Nowhere is this current gap more obvious than for people experiencing a mental health crisis.
At the moment, people in physical health crisis have a clear path to care and support, while those in a mental health crisis may have to deal with as many as fourteen different ways to try and get help.
This Concordat describes exactly how local commissioners, working with partners, can make sure that people experiencing a mental health crisis get as good a response from an emergency service as people in need of urgent and emergency care for physical health conditions.
Most importantly, this Concordat clearly describes what people have told us they need, such as:
- When I need urgent help, both I and the people close to me, know who to contact at any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- I feel safe and am treated kindly, with respect, and in accordance with my legal rights.
- I have support to speak for myself and make decisions about my treatment and care.
- I am given information about, and referrals to, services that will support my process of recovery and help me to stay well.
We are gathering information on how people in need are accessing crisis care. Our Academic Health Science Networks are gathering information on best international models of crisis services and the methods to commission these.
Our clinical leadership across NHS England, in our Strategic Clinical Networks and Clinical Commissioning Groups, are rising to the challenge of transforming care. Many providers and our Strategic clinical networks are already planning changes to their services in response to what their communities need. I’ve seen great examples and they usually include:
- A single point of access into crisis care, with well-trained triage and tele-health workers who are supported by services which are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week as they are for physical health crisis.
- Home treatment teams, so that when an individual is experiencing crisis, it is possible to reduce attendance at Accident & Emergency services and admissions to acute and mental health hospitals, where appropriate.
- High quality liaison mental health services for individuals who go to Accident & Emergency.
We’ve made sure the Concordat fully aligns with the urgent and emergency care review being led by Professor Keith Willett. The programme of work resulting from this, along with implementation of the Concordat, will lead to a significant change for people experiencing a mental health crisis in accessing services.
In discussions with the many incredible committed partners involved in developing the Crisis Concordat, we at NHS England have also committed to a number of actions to help make positive change happen faster. These include:
- Reviewing the availability, quality and gaps in information we need to assess the level of local need for crisis care.
- Developing a baseline assessment of what care is currently being provided and where.
- Monitoring the effectiveness of how we respond to people who experience a mental health crisis, including those who are assessed under the Mental Health Act.
- Developing our mental health intelligence programme so that when data is routinely available, commissioners and providers can review what is happening locally against the needs of their community and make good choices.
- Setting standards for the use of crisis care plans in line with the Care Programme approach and NICE guidance.
- Commissioning services so that Liaison & Diversion services and Street Triage refer individuals with existing mental health and substance misuse problems to services which can help address their needs.
If we get crisis care right, then no matter where someone is or what they are experiencing, every person is supported, safe and helped to recover. This is what we are striving for.
You can follow Geraldine Strathdee on Twitter: @DrG_NHS