03 February 2014

Place of safety

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AWP is opening a new 'place of safety' on the Southmead hospital site on Monday 3 February.
The new four-place facility will replace the existing single-bed place of safety located at Callington Road Hospital.
The place of safety is for people in extreme mental distress who are detained for their own safety and the safety of others under section 136 of the mental health act. Under section 136 people can be detained for specialist assessment for up to 72 hours. However, this is usually done within a fraction of this time, enabling the person to receive the right treatment and care as quickly as possible.

Our chief executive Iain Tulley explained, "Our new 136 suite, or place of safety, is a truly exciting development. For many more people it will mean the difference between their anxiety escalating in a police cell and feeling safe and cared for in the suite, thus setting them up for the best possible recovery. We're incredibly grateful to the four Clinical Commissioning Groups, the Police and Crime Commissioner and Avon and Somerset Police for enabling and supporting this to happen."
Sue Mountstevens, Avon & Somerset Police & Crime Commissioner, said, "I have always been passionate that police cells are not a place to detain someone suffering mental illness. Too often I have heard about people being detained under the mental health act even though they have committed no crime. 
"People who are mentally ill require specialist help in order to get better. Unlike a mental health professional, police officers are not trained to provide the necessary level of support to someone with mental health problems.
"The opening fully supports my aspiration to have no mental health detainees in police custody."   
Andrew Keefe, the Associate Director for mental health at South West Commissioning Support, the organisation responsible for the commissioning of the new facility on behalf of Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset CCGs, says:
"I am pleased to see the new unit finally opened. Although it has taken a lot longer to achieve than anyone would have wanted, it is evidence of what can be done, even in financially austere times, when four CCGs work together with a mental health trust to the benefit of local people.
"For too long, too many people with acute mental health needs have found themselves in a police cell rather than a dedicated mental health facility. This new unit means that fewer people will be held in a Police cell and that can only be a good thing for all concerned - not least the person in need"
Iain Tulley concluded, "This development is a great indicator of how we now work together with diverse local agencies and organisations. The days when a priority might have been to remove people displaying extreme distress from public view are long gone. Now the priority is working together to set people on the road to recovery as early as possible.

"Whilst we herald the new place of safety, in reality we want it to be only a very small part of the story for an ever decreasing number of people. By working as part of the local community to make mental health more visible and more widely discussed, and by constantly broadening the focus of, and improving access to, our services, we're moving in that direction."





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