The Police and Crime Commissioner has launched a pilot scheme in Oldham to help police and the NHS support sufferers of mental health.
The mental health triage, which is the first of its kind in Greater Manchester, is being run in partnership with police and Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust. The project will ensure officers attending any incident that potentially involves a person suffering from a mental illness are able to ring the triage number that will provide information to allow the officers to direct the individual involved to the most appropriate service on attendance.
Traditionally officers make a decision based on their own assessment however as part of the pilot scheme they will be provided with a mobile number that will put them directly through to mental health specialists who can offer advice, support and update them on whether the person being dealt with is known to the health service.
The service, which began on 2 December is being trialled for three months, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and has been funded by Tony Lloyd and Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.
Tony said: “This is a common sense and welcome step in making sure vulnerable people are getting the care they need, and is exactly why I set aside £200,000 in the police budget to look at innovative ways to address this difficult issue.
“Mental health issues place a massive demand on policing and the only solution is for the police, NHS and other agencies to pool resources and work together. This pilot is an example of genuine partnership working and is an approach I want to drive across Greater Manchester.”
Oldham Divisional Commander, Chief Superintendent Catherine Hankinson, said: “Many people are affected by mental health and services such as this are a positive step in ensuring that the right service is provided for individuals that are appropriate for their needs.
“All too often officers have to make a decision on the appropriate care for a person when they don’t have the appropriate knowledge and this system allows us all to be able to share information and have a system in place that allows us to be able to protect the most vulnerable at times of crisis. It also ensures we are able to provide a better outcome for the individuals affected.”
Since 1 April 2013, police in Oldham have dealt with 1,512 incidents where individuals have had a mental health issue.
Chief Superintendent Hankinson added: “The triage system allows partners to make a joint assessment on the individual being dealt with. By having this tailored service a practical solution can be found that is agreed by all parties and allows for a more dignified treatment for those in crisis and a joint decision by all services involved.
“If a person isn’t known to the mental health services already, officers are given advice on how best to deal with them based on their presenting behaviour. The whole process will create a reduction in the demand on our officers because people will be signposted to the right service and given the type of care that suits their needs.”
Clair Carson, Acute Services Line Manager at Pennine Care, said: “Our mental health experts work within the Royal Oldham Hospital and across the local community to provide timely assessments of people who present with a range of mental health issues including psychosis, depression, self-harm and other associated issues.
“By working more closely with the Police, we will be able to quickly identify people who are already accessing our services and can help those who don’t to be assessed more quickly. We hope that it will help to provide a more joined up approach to treating patients and will alleviate some of the pressures faced by both the Police and the NHS.”
Photo shows (L-R) Chief Superintendent Catherine Hankinson, Tina McCormack, Access and RAID team, Louise Woodruff, Nurse Practitioner, PC Lisa Addison, Dr Gupta, Clair Carson, Acute Services Line Manager, Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd, and John Schofield, Chair of Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.