Street Triage Mental Health Scheme introduced to West Midlands

A pilot ‘street triage’ scheme from the Department of Health has been launched in the West Midlands to ensure people with mental health issues are kept out of custody and receive the right treatment.

The scheme will see paramedics from West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and nurses from Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust join forces with West Midlands Police to attend incidents involving people who require immediate mental health support.

The pilot follows similar schemes that have taken place elsewhere in the country, which have shown a reduction in the demands on police and ambulance time.

Dr Andy Carson, medical director for West Midlands Ambulance Service, said: ‘This is a fantastic and exciting opportunity for the Trust to work alongside partners to ensure the highest quality of care is delivered to some of the most vulnerable people from within our community. We welcome this opportunity and firmly believe this will ensure mental health provision will be amongst the best in the country.’

Jon Short, chief executive at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation, said: ‘There’s been a huge fuss in recent years over how much front-line police work deals with mental health issues.
‘Lots of their call-outs are to disturbances in the street or domestic issues. Police have limited powers in these issues, so the outcome is often an arrest.

‘The triage will allow trained paramedics and mental health nurses to assess people more thoroughly and to make police aware of the range of options available to them, such as if the person involved needs counselling or other care.’

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 27 January 2014.

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