Today the Department of Health released information about its national programme to improve care for people experiencing mental health crisis.  Figures show that the use of police cells as a ‘place of safety’ have more than halved thanks to the Crisis Care Concordat- a programme to drive up standards in mental health crisis care across the country.

The programme has led to almost ten thousand people receiving emergency attention from mental health nurses working alongside police officers in ‘street triage’ schemes.

The Rt Hon Alistair Burt, Minister of State for Community and Social Care visited Bradford yesterday to see how local partners including Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford Council, West Yorkshire Police and MIND are working together to improve the situation for mental health service users at the point of crisis. The Minister received a tour of the ‘First Response’ call centre based at the Care Trust’s Lynfield Mount Hospital and the 136 suite, a health based place of safety.

First Response is the first point of contact for urgent mental health and social care services in the area 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  People self-refer via telephone and their needs are assessed by a psychological therapist (tele-coach) who offers appropriate advice and further support. For people in need of intensive support a face-to-face assessment can be arranged in places such as A&E departments, police stations and GP surgeries. First Responders who are qualified mental health nurses also support the Police and ambulance service when making decisions about applying the Mental Health Act.

The Minister for Community and Social Care, Alistair Burt said:

“I am very impressed with the First Response service available across the Bradford district. It is clear that partners are working together to ensure that everyone gets the crisis care they need in the right place, at the right time.

“Having a mental illness is not a crime. Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis should be treated with the same urgency and compassion as someone with a broken leg, rather than ending in a police cell.

First Response has made a significant difference to local management of crisis care, in particular for police officers.

Debra Gilderdale, Deputy Director Acute Care Services said: “Initiatives such as First Response allow officers to make informed decisions about people in mental health crisis. This is particularly important when there is apparent risk of harm to a person or others. First Response supports officers ‘at the scene’ to access professional mental health advice in real time.

“We’ve seen a reduction in the use of police cells and an increase in people in crisis getting speedy and appropriate help in an appropriate health based setting.”

Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis, or concerned for someone’s wellbeing can call First Response on 01274 221181.