New 24/7 mental health crisis response service to be set up in Suffolk

A new mental health crisis response service is being set up in Suffolk. Picture: TIME TO CHANGE

A new mental health crisis response service is being set up in Suffolk. Picture: TIME TO CHANGE - Credit: Archant

A new round-the-clock crisis response service is to be set up to help cope with growing numbers of people with mental ill health in Suffolk.

Eugene Staunton, associate director of transformation for mental health at NHS Ipswich and East Suff

Eugene Staunton, associate director of transformation for mental health at NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk and NHS West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY - Credit: CONTRIBUTED

As part of £3million due to be spent over the next two years, patients aged 18 and older will be able to call a new mental health telephone hotline when they, friends or family hit a crisis point.

When necessary, they will then be able to get a face-to-face assessment at home at any time of the day or night - so they can quickly be admitted to hospital when needed.

More than 20 extra staff will be recruited in the new crisis response and home treatment teams, including new consultants, nurses and speciality doctors.

Although there are currently crisis response teams at Ipswich and West Suffolk hospitals, a telephone crisis line is only available to patients currently receiving treatment from the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), as well as their families.

The home treatment teams also only work between 7am and 10pm at Ipswich’s Woodlands unit, and from 8am to 9pm at West Suffolk’s Wedgewood ward.

Eugene Staunton, associate director of transformation for mental health across the West Suffolk and Ipswich and East Suffolk clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) - which are funding the new service - said: “All round, if you are a patient, this should be a better offer for you.

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“At the moment patients go to A&E or ring 111 but there isn’t a dedicated mental health response,” said Mr Staunton.

“This will mean there will be an option to press for a dedicated mental health response.

“Call handlers would then be able to respond to those in crisis, which might actually mean people going out to see them in their own home or advice and signposting them to other services.

“This is important for Suffolk, as it is for all areas, because it’s giving patients the right support when they need it.”

Part of the goal when the service is up and running - expected to be March 2020 - is to be able to get help for patients in crisis quickly, so their problems do not become worse later on.

That, Mr Staunton said, means the £2m due to be invested in Ipswich and East Suffolk in 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 - along with the £1m proposed for West Suffolk - could help to save the NHS money in the long run.

“Hopefully, like all things, if we get in early it will stop the issue growing,” he said.

“That is better for all concerned but most of all for the patient.”

A similar service set up Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, which the model is based on, helped reduce emergency department attendances for mental health reasons by 25%, as well as calls to out of hours GP services by 39% and the number of overdoses by 16%.

“One of the priorities wherever possible is to keep people out of inpatient services apart from where it’s unavoidable,” Mr Staunton said.

“The additional support for the home treatment team will mean they can do that outreach.

“We want to support people to stay in their own homes so they don’t have to go into a mental health facility.

“Where possible we want to keep people in their own homes and support them where it is better for them.”

The CCGs’ governing bodies are set to vote on the funding for the new service at meetings next week.

It would require £589,908 in Ipswich and East Suffolk in 2019/2020 while the service is still being created, along with a further £1.4m in 2020/2021 once it is fully operational.

The funding needed for West Suffolk is £312,092 in 2019/2020 and £729,178 in 2020/2021.

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