03 February 2020

Mental Health Trust pilots support to ambulance crews dealing with people in crisis

Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust is expanding the specialist mental health advice service it provides to emergency services crews across the Bristol North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) areas as part of a pilot project.

The Trust is already working with Avon and Somerset Police and Avon Fire & Rescue Service to provide telephone assessments, support and street triage for incidents involving people in mental health crisis. 

But the service is being expanded to ambulance crews from South Western Ambulance Service Trust (SWAST) as well.  The pilot initiative includes:

  • Control Room Triage response - providing advice and offering telephone assessments to individuals
  • Street Triage response - face to face support and assessments

Highly trained mental health staff will provide expert telephone advice to support complex decision making for frontline emergency services staff so that they can help individuals directly in crisis, including referrals and signposting to appropriate mental health support. If required, the team will then send a member of the Street Triage Team to assist emergency crews at the incident.

Mathew Page, Chief Operating Officer for AWP, said: "This is excellent news for people living in the BNSSG area who have a new or existing mental health problem. Our staff will be able to provide expert advice to ambulance crews and get people the help they need in the most appropriate way. If the person in crisis is already one of our patients we will be able to work with ambulance crews to ensure appropriate care for the individual, as detailed in their existing crisis and contingency plan.

"The service is also expected to reduce inappropriate use of our Place of Safety and accident and emergency units across the BNSSG area."  

Rhys Hancock, Clinical Lead and Paramedic for SWASFT, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity to extend the skills and knowledge of the specialist mental health practitioners to patients who SWASFT care for. Their support and advice on scene for patients in crisis will be invaluable to ensure the best care for our patients."

The control room and street triage services are available from 9am-10pm Monday Friday, with plans to extend to Saturday and Sunday in 2020. Outside of these hours, emergency services crews will continue to use existing contact telephone numbers for mental health services.

 The pilot is running until the end of March and if successful could be extended.

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