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Street triage is team effort to save lives

14 July 2016


An initiative to ensure patients experiencing a mental health crisis have fast access to care has been launched in Bedfordshire.

The Mental Health Street Triage is a partnership between Bedfordshire Police, East of England Ambulance Trust, East London NHS Foundation Trust, Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Luton Clinical Commissioning Group.

The pilot scheme will see a police officer, paramedic and mental health professional team up in one car to respond to mental health crisis calls 365 days a year. They will cover the whole county, operating from 3pm – 1am, with bases at Police HQ in Kempston and at Luton Police Station.

The team will attend incidents where there is an immediate threat to life – someone threatening to self-harm, or commit suicide – or where a third party has called the police or ambulance and expressed concern for someone. The team has a dedicated phone and can be referred to incidents by police and ambulance control rooms.

Bedfordshire Police lead for Mental Health awareness, Chief Inspector Jaki Whittred, said: “We are committed to developing our understanding of mental health conditions, so we are able to serve and protect people with diverse needs. Other Mental Health Street Triage pilot schemes around the country have resulted in a reduction of detentions under the Mental Health Act and in police custody, so we know this works.

“The Street Triage team will be able to direct people experiencing a mental health crisis to appropriate longer-term support, treatments and interventions which can reduce risks and vulnerabilities that may have contributed to the need for call out. It’s an incredible project which will reduce the demand on emergency services across the county and hugely benefit patients who will receive faster access to care.”

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, said: “This scheme is outstanding as, previously, police officers with no medical training had to make the call over sectioning and around half the cases they took to hospital were released. Now the expert help of a mental health nurse is available and the team can also check the overall health of the person. Clearly custody and the courts are not the appropriate place for someone with mental health needs to end up and the scheme also frees other officers, from a policing viewpoint, to get on with the 999 response duties they are there for.”

Gail Dearing, Associate Director of Social Care for Bedfordshire and Luton Mental Health and Wellbeing Services, has been the Trust’s project lead. “We are excited at being involved with a new service that can make a real difference in how we care for people experiencing a mental health crisis,” she said. “We will be on the front line where we can provide immediate help, avoid unnecessary detentions in police custody under the Mental Health Act and ultimately reduce pressure on the entire system with early and effective interventions.”

Area Clinical Lead Duncan Moore from the East of England Ambulance Trust said: “We come into contact with people suffering a mental health crisis on a near-daily basis. We are committed to developing the understanding and awareness of various mental health conditions, so that we can help people with diverse needs living in our communities. By doing this with other agencies in a coherent and meaningful way, and providing the relevant support together, we will help make a difference, and I‘d like to thank everyone involved in setting this up.”

Gerry Taylor, Corporate Director Public Health, Commissioning and Procurement at Luton Borough Council said: “Keeping residents safe and well in Luton is a top priority. The new Mental Health Street Triage is an excellent scheme aimed to assist with crisis situations if residents become ill. It’s great to hear that professionals are working together to ensure people who suffer with mental health illnesses are treated appropriately.”

Dr Alvin Low, a local GP and Chair of Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The street triage teams are a very welcome development which make a huge difference to people when they are especially vulnerable because they are experiencing a crisis in their mental health. The partnership of healthcare staff and the police helps ensure that people with mental health problems get the specialist help they need in an appropriate setting as soon as possible: this is vital, especially in emergency situations.”


·         MIND research shows that one in four  people experience a mental health problem

·         In 2013/14 Bedfordshire Police attended around 3,700 mental health related incidents

·         Bedfordshire Police attended 3,700 mental health related incidents in 2013/14

·         Nationally, mental health related incidents make up 20 per cent of all police business

·         66% of mental health related incidents attended by Bedfordshire Police happened in Luton

Notes to editors

Media are invited to a launch event at police headquarters, Kempston, from 10.30am – midday on Thursday 24 June.

Those available for interview include Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, representatives from Bedfordshire Police, EEAST, ELFT, Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Luton Clinical Commissioning Group, as well as spokespeople for MIND and the Samaritans.

Please contact Lindsay.Coates-Ledden@bedfordshire.pnn.police.uk if you would like to attend.

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