Latest Public Sector News

18.02.14

Crisis Concordat to address ‘unacceptable’ mental healthcare

The Department of Health has launched a new agreement to improve mental health crisis care: the Crisis Care Concordat. The concordat has been signed by more than 20 organisations, including police, mental health trusts and paramedics.

It sets outs the standards of care people should be able to expect, and calls for local areas to ensure there are always beds available for urgent use. Police custody should never be used when mental health services are unavailable and police vehicles should not be used to transfer patients between hospitals.

Services must get better at sharing essential information about patients, the agreement states, and calls for local areas to put timescales into place so that police responding to mental health crises know how long they have to wait for a health and social care response.

A 24-hour helpline should be available for people in mental health crisis and localities must address evidence which suggests there are cases where some BME groups are detained more frequently under the Mental Health Act.

The DH will work in partnership with the Home Office and mental health charity Mind to promote and support local responses to the Concordat. Each locality is expected to have agreed a Mental Health Crisis Declaration by December 2014.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: “It’s unacceptable that there are incidents where young people and even children can end up in a police cell because the right mental health service isn’t available to them.

“That’s why we’re taking action across the country and across organisations to make sure those with mental health problems are receiving the emergency care they need.

“We want to build a fairer society – one where mental health is as important as physical health – and the Crisis Care Concordat is an important step towards addressing this disparity.”

Care minister Norman Lamb said that urgent and compassionate care was vital. He added: “For me, crisis care is the most stark example of the lack of equality between mental and physical health.

“The NHS and police already work well together in some areas, but it is totally unacceptable that crisis mental health care is so variable across the country. It is imperative that all areas seek to implement the principles of the Concordat as quickly as possible to ensure consistent care, no matter where you live.

“Better care for people in mental health crises will not only help those living through their darkest hours to recover – it can also save lives.”

Minister for policing Damian Green said: “The signing of the Concordat is a demonstration of what can be achieved when people work together. From today each organisation will have a clear set of principles to follow and vulnerable people experiencing difficulties will be able to get the right help when and where they need it.”

Dr Felix Davies, managing director for Mental Health Services at Turning Point welcomed the Concordat and said: “We cannot have parity of esteem without this.” He called for national policy to be instigated consistently at a local level, with joint working between the many organisations involved.

Jenny Edwards CBE, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation said: “There is simply no excuse for vulnerable individuals in a mental health crisis, not being able to quickly access safe, therapeutic and compassionate care in a suitable environment – wherever they are in the country.

“Mental health has always been more than an issue just for the health service alone. The health and criminal justice systems in particular, must work together to ensure high quality support for people in a crisis.”

And Dr Peter Carter, chief executive & general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “We need to see better outcomes for people experiencing mental health crisis and this requires agencies to work together more effectively.

“The Concordat sets out a vision for bringing about positive changes. There are already exciting developments underway such as mental health nurses working alongside police officers on street triage schemes and in police stations and we look forward to seeing the results of these pilot projects.”

Stephen Dalton, chief executive of the NHS Confederation's Mental Health Network, agreed that a joined-up response was vital.

He said: “This is where the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat can really make a difference, as it sets out the clear commitment of all those involved in the mental health sector to improve support for people before, during and after a crisis. It is not just a piece of paper, it's a pledge to make things better in practice, and the NHS Confederation's Mental Health Network is proud to have signed it on behalf of all our members.

“We are particularly pleased that the police and the Royal College of GP's are reviewing their training programmes to improve understanding of mental health problems and to develop and deliver improved services.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Image c. Andy Smith

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