Police And NHS Sign New Agreement On Mental Health Crisis Care

Team-WorkA new agreement between police, mental health trusts and paramedics is set to significantly improve emergency support for people in mental health crisis across the country, care services minister Norman Lamb MP announced earlier this month.

Launched by Norman Lamb MP this morning, the agreement – the Crisis care concordat – aims to drive up standards of care for people experiencing a crisis.

Signed by more than 20 national organisations – including the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network (MHN) on behalf of its members, the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Royal College of Psychiatrists – the concordat will help cut the numbers of people detained inappropriately in police cells and bring an end to the variation in standards across the country, the Department of Health said.

It sets out the standards of care people should expect if they suffer a mental health crisis (such as suicidal thoughts or significant anxiety), and details how emergency services should respond.

The Mental Health Network has produced a briefing which provides a summary of the key principles and commitments in the concordat and highlights how stronger local partnerships can work together to deliver improved crisis care.

Challenge to local services

The concordat challenges local services to make sure beds are always available for people who need them urgently and is clear that police custody should never be used just because mental health services are not available.

It also stipulates that police vehicles should not be used to transfer patients between hospitals and encourages services to improve sharing essential information about patients .

The Crisis care concordat also challenges local areas to make sure that:

  • Timescales are put in place so police responding to mental health crisis know how long they have to wait for a response from health and social care workers.
  • Figures suggest some black and minority ethnic groups are detained more frequently under the Mental Health Act. Where this is the case, it must be addressed by local services working with local communities so that the standards set out in the Concordat are met.
  • A 24-hour helpline should be available for people with mental health problems and the crisis resolution team should be accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.