Publish date: 14 June 2023

Mental health service recognised in regional NHS Parliamentary Awards

NHS organisations in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire have received a regional Excellence in Mental Health Care Award, as part of the 2023 NHS Parliamentary Awards, for their Integrated Access Partnership.

The Excellence in Mental Health Care Award recognises individuals and teams that have worked across organisational boundaries to develop new and effective services to help people living with mental health problems in their community.

The Integrated Access Partnership is a collaboration between Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, BrisDoc Healthcare Service, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board and the wider Integrated Care System as well as Avon and Somerset Police, Fire and voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations.

The Integrated Access Partnership combines mental health support into urgent and emergency care front door services across both 999 and 111 for people in mental health crisis.  It provides the most appropriate response to people through the most appropriate professional. This can include blue light emergency face-to-face response; remote face-to-face and telephone assessment; clinical review; professional advice and prescribing.

In 2022 the Integrated Access Partnership enabled 1,700 ambulances to be stood down from dispatch to individuals in mental health crisis and, by providing alternative and more appropriate support, only two people with mental health needs were directed to A&E through the NHS111 Mental Health Clinical Assessment Service. This had a direct result of improving the ability of the system to better respond to at a time of significant pressure.

The full integration of this service also means people only need to tell their story once before accessing both mental and physical health services, which is particularly important for people living with multiple health conditions and supports reducing delays to receiving care.

Jeff Farrar, Chair of NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board, said:

“It is great news that this local initiative has been recognised at a regional level. The service is the result of extensive collaboration between multiple organisations and shows the innovation and commitment to deliver the very best health and care services for people across our communities.”

Mathew Page, Chief Operating Officer at Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership, said:

“The best healthcare is both collaborative and cooperative, firstly with the individual and their loved ones but also with all the other services which are seeking to help them.

“When people are in crisis they often come into contact with several emergency services as well as specialist mental health clinicians. In organising this service to operate in a fully integrated way we are able to share the right information, make the right decisions about who should be involved and provide a swift health intervention to a health problem.

“As a clinician I’ve seen first-hand the immediate benefit this can bring to people when they are in distress. The learning we have gathered from this way of working is proving vital in a number of transformation projects we have underway.”

Dr Kathy Ryan, Medical Director at BrisDoc Healthcare Services, said:

"This initiative is a great example of collaborative, courage-based leadership. Much thought, hard work, and building of relationships has borne fruit, and created an effective, joined-up, happy service which serves people in crisis well. It is rightly an award winner".

Will Warrender, Chief Executive at South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“I am delighted that the Integrated Access Partnership has been recognised within the regional NHS Parliamentary Awards.

“The introduction of the partnership has been a positive step forward in providing expert urgent care for people experiencing mental health crisis, helping many thousands of people to receive the care they need a place, and from a service, that best suits their needs.”