Rapid response vehicle for people in mental health crisis launched
- Credit: NSFT
A rapid response vehicle specifically geared at answering 999 calls for mental health emergencies has been launched.
The new vehicle will be staffed by a paramedic and a specialist mental health practitioner and will respond to any calls across Norfolk and Waveney where mental health is a concern.
Launched by the region's mental health service provider, the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), the project is a collaboration with the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST).
It is based on a similar scheme launched by the EEAST in Cambridgeshire and has been funded by the Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
However, the service will not run around the clock, with an initial five-month period seeing it available to be called from 3pm until 1am on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.
Stuart Richardson, chief executive at NSFT said: “To have a mental health joint response car dedicated to helping those in mental health crisis is an important step forward.
“It means we can offer rapid support to those with a mental health issue in the community. Our team can triage people at home and arrange appropriate follow-up care instead of a regular ambulance taking people to a hospital.
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“It will ensure people get the right care at the right time and if the pilot proves successful, we hope to be able to expand the service.”
The service will be run on a limited basis, to begin with.
Marcus Bailey chief operating officer at East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “Delivering a health-led response to mental health need presenting through 999 services is a priority for EEAST. The rollout of such a scheme within the Norfolk and Waveney footprint is a welcome move.
"The model fits the national direction of travel for ambulance trusts in meeting need presenting through the 999 system.
"Delivering an integrated model that delivers specialist support at the point of need is central to delivering this.
"The scheme also supports the wider EEAST ambition around decreasing stigma and delivering parity of care to all patients."
It comes as other 999 services see rising rates of mental health-related calls.
In August, Norfolk police said the force went to 91 incidents related to s135 of the Mental Health Act.
It represented a 65pc rise, up from 55 instances in 2019/20.