Improving mental health care

People calling NHS111 and 999 with mental health issues are now receiving more timely dedicated care thanks to a pilot currently being trialled in the North East.

NEAS has teamed up with Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW) and Tees Esk Wear Valley (TEWV) to offer a service for people who call into NEAS experiencing suicidal thoughts but have not hurt themselves and do not pose an imminent risk to themselves.

These patients would normally be advised to attend an emergency department within an hour and if that patient did not have their own transport, they would generate an ambulance. They often then self-discharge before they are assessed by a mental health specialist and re-contact NHS111, triggering the same disposition and finding themselves in a loop without successful conclusion.

By working with NTW and TEWV, dual trained 999 and NHS111 call handlers are now able to transfer these callers straight through to a crisis mental health service and then signposted to the most appropriate pathway.

The pilot began in December last year and is currently operating in all parts of the North East.

As well as providing better patient care, this service is also helping to reduce the pressure on frontline resources.

Although the results are still being evaluated, the vast majority of patients are now having their needs met by a mental health service, avoiding unnecessary attendance at the emergency department and ensuring the are engaged with the right pathway at the right time

In recognition of this, the pilot was a finalist in the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Category at the recent Bright Ideas in Health Awards. 

NEAS is now looking to build upon this work to improve mental health care further for patients. This includes employing a mental health project lead, working two days a week on a secondment basis, to develop a mental health strategy for the Trust.

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