Joint Efforts to Improve Mental Health Response
In a groundbreaking move, health and policing partners across England have signed a new national agreement aimed at providing more effective and appropriate care for individuals experiencing mental health crises.
This collaborative approach seeks to free up valuable police time and ensure that those in crisis receive treatment from professionals equipped with the relevant skills and experience.
Ending Inappropriate Police Involvement
Under the newly forged National Partnership Agreement, local health partners and police forces will join forces to develop joint plans that prioritize the right care and appropriate response for mental health incidents.
The objective is to eliminate unnecessary police involvement in situations where no crime is being committed, or there is no immediate threat to safety. Instead, the focus will be on providing swift and targeted care through the most suitable healthcare agencies.
Timely Handovers and Tailored Implementation
The agreement also emphasizes the importance of efficient handovers between police officers and healthcare providers when individuals in mental health crises are taken to a health setting under the Mental Health Act.
Local partners will work towards ensuring these handovers occur within one hour, ensuring smoother transitions and a more patient-centric approach. The plans and timelines for implementation will be tailored to meet the needs of each community, taking into account the resources available in each locality.
A Proven Success Story: Right Care, Right Person
The National Partnership Agreement draws inspiration from the success of the Right Care, Right Person (RCRP) initiative, pioneered by Humberside Police and the NHS in 2019.
This innovative program has facilitated a streamlined process in police control rooms, enabling quick identification of the most appropriate agency to respond to emergency calls related to mental health crises.
Localized Solutions for Optimal Care
Local partners will collaboratively decide on the best health-based approach when police involvement is not warranted, following the new agreement.
One such example is Humberside, where a dedicated response vehicle staffed by mental health professionals has been attending calls and providing support alongside other community-based mental health services. This tailored approach ensures individuals receive the most suitable care for their specific needs.
Unlocking Police Time and Enhancing Community Safety
The impact of the Right Care, Right Person initiative on Humberside Police has been nothing short of remarkable. On average, the force has saved a staggering 1,441 officer hours every month, culminating in a total saving of 46,114 officer hours between May 2020 and December 2022.
Extrapolating these time savings across all police forces in England could potentially free up to 1 million hours of police officer time per year. This newfound time will enable the police to concentrate more on combating crime and ensuring community safety.
Ministers Applaud the Agreement’s Potential
Policing Minister Chris Philp and Minister for Mental Health Maria Caulfield have praised the landmark agreement for its potential to transform mental health crisis response.
Chris Philp highlighted the agreement’s positive impact on police officers’ ability to focus on crime prevention and investigation, while Maria Caulfield emphasized the importance of providing the best possible emergency response for individuals in mental health crises.
Commitment to Better Mental Health Services
The National Partnership Agreement, endorsed by key stakeholders such as the Home Office, Department of Health and Social Care, National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), NHS England, the College of Policing, and The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), signifies a firm commitment to the Right Care, Right Person approach.
The agreement underscores the crucial role that people with mental health issues play in the community and acknowledges that the police are not always the most appropriate agency to respond to mental health incidents.
Growing Investment in Mental Health Services
Recognizing the significance of mental health support, the UK government is investing an additional £2.3 billion annually into mental health services by 2024. This funding will dedicate a substantial portion to community mental health services for individuals with serious mental illnesses.
The investment aims to bolster mental health crisis phone lines, expand mental health services, and grow the mental health workforce.
Expanding Alternatives to A&E for Mental Health Crises
Efforts to provide better mental health services are underway, with every area in the country investing in alternatives to emergency departments and hospitals for mental health crises.
A £60 million investment supports initiatives like crisis cafes, safe havens, and crisis houses, with additional funding set for specialized mental health ambulances’ construction nationwide.
A Collaborative Approach for Better Care
NHS England’s National Mental Health Director, Claire Murdoch, emphasized the importance of collaborative work between health services and police forces to ensure individuals experiencing mental health crises receive the most appropriate care promptly.
The National Partnership Agreement encourages local areas to develop protocols that align with the needs of their communities, with a focus on patient views and resource assessments.
A Comprehensive Toolkit for Effective Implementation
To ensure a smooth rollout of the Right Care, Right Person principles across England, the NPCC and College of Policing have developed a national toolkit. This comprehensive resource provides support for local implementation, including guidance on decision-making for police response thresholds, partnership collaboration, and training requirements.
An Encouraging Step Towards Improved Mental Health Services
Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend, the APCC Mental Health lead, expressed support for the National Partnership Agreement, considering it a vital step towards providing vulnerable individuals with the right care from the right professionals.
She pledged her commitment, along with other PCC colleagues, to work closely with chief constables and local partners to ensure successful implementation.
Strengthening the Interface within the Urgent Mental Health Pathway
In addition to the National Partnership Agreement, NHS England is working on co-producing guidance with multi-agency professionals and individuals with lived experience of mental health problems.
This guidance aims to strengthen the interface between different agencies within the urgent mental health pathway, further improving the quality of care provided to those in crisis.