It is a year since Norfolk took a significant step towards improving support for those with mental health issues with the signing of a key agreement – but there is still much more to do.
Norfolk’s Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat was signed on 21st March 2014 by Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, Minister for Care and Support, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Jenny McKibben and key players from organisations across the county dealing with mental health.
The national initiative supports dramatic improvements across the country as part of an agreement between police, mental health trusts and paramedics to improve mental health crisis care and potentially save lives. The agreement is aimed at driving up standards of care for people experiencing crisis and will help the numbers of people detained inappropriately in police cells.
Minister for Care and Norman Lamb MP has written to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioners for Norfolk to congratulate the county on being one of the first to submit a comprehensive action plan.
LetterfromNormanLambMP says: “My hope is that other areas will learn from your example, and your experiences, so that at a national level we can transform care in a positive way that we all agree is very much needed.”
“When I first proposed the idea of a Crisis Care Concordat, I knew that I wanted to create a blueprint that could genuinely be used and adapted locally. The brilliant work you are doing in Norfolk is testament to that vision, and I am delighted with the progress you are making.”
We've made progress....there is still so much more that needs to be done - Jenny McKibben
Deputy PCC Jenny McKibben said: “It’s one year since partners in Norfolk all came together to sign the mental health concordat and improve support for people in crisis and we’ve made good progress. We now have a mental health team in the police control room, and we have reduced the number of occasions where the police have had to use their powers under the mental health act to detain someone. We have also seen a reduction of those detained under this power taken to police custody suites (one of the lowest figures in the country).
“However there is still so much more that needs to be done to give Norfolk people suffering mental ill health the care they deserve and to get parity of esteem for mental health with physical health. We need to see more support available in the community, help for children and young people, earlier intervention, and a county wide strategy. The concordat gives us a platform to build on the strong partnership working which already exists in the county.”
Clive Rennie, Head of Mental Health & Learning Disability Integrated Commissioning: “We focussed on a number of areas of action to try to achieve progress in the first year of the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat, against a backdrop of very challenging financial national and local circumstances. Progress has been made in a number of areas such as the new crisis support line, the mental health team in the Police Control Centre, mental health staff linked to the 111 helpline, more timely ambulance conveyance of patients, funding for the staffing of Section 136 suites, the establishment of Psychiatric Liaison teams at NNUH and QEH and mental health practitioners being in place in the Urgent Care Centre at NNUH.
“We need to continue this progression with increased concentration on other elements that prevent crisis such as the development of a newly designed service supporting Primary Care, working together to redesign of secondary care mental health services and working with partners to achieve better linkages to provide accommodation and maximising recovery and independence”
The Concordat sets out standards of care people should expect if they suffer a mental health crisis and details how the emergency services should respond. It challenges local services to make sure beds are always available for people who need them urgently and also that police custody should never be used just because mental health services are unavailable.
It also stipulates that police vehicles should not be used to transfer patients between hospitals and encourages services to get better at sharing essential need-to-know information about patients which could help keep them and the public safe.
Organisations who are signatories to the concordat included MIND, the NHS Foundation Trust, Norfolk & Suffolk Ambulance Trust, Norfolk Constabulary and Norfolk County Council.