Blackpool Mental health partnership is a success

A pilot that was introduced to respond to people experiencing mental health crisis between Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, North West Ambulance NHS Service Trust (NWAS) and Lancashire Constabulary is proving to be a huge success in providing the most appropriate care, support and treatment to people.

The pilot, called Psynergy, was launched last December in Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre, and involves a senior mental health nurse from Lancashire Care, a paramedic and a police officer coming together as a crew in a NWAS vehicle to jointly attend to people experiencing a mental health crisis. The aim is to provide people with appropriate triage, offer the right care and advice, improve patient experience and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.

Since its launch, the Psynergy team has attended 570 incidents, 195 of these only needed advice at the point of contact with only 20 leading to Section 136 detentions under the Mental Health Act. The pilot is also able to support people to remain in their own homes with the right care.

The team triages people on scene and ensures that the most appropriate pathway to support the patient is identified and initiated. The team works seven days a week and operates from 4pm until midnight, a period that NWAS and the police identified as a key time for mental health call outs.

The Psynergy pilot has now received funding from Fylde Coast commissioners to continue the service for another twelve months. The Trust will then work with partners to evaluate the pilot and develop a plan to roll this out across Lancashire and South Cumbria as part of an ongoing Mental Health Improvement Plan which is shared between NHS, police and local authorities.

Caroline Donovan, Chief Executive at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“We are really pleased that our partnership with Lancashire Constabulary and the North West Ambulance Service is having such a positive impact across Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre. The partnership has been designed so that we can jointly respond and support people who are in mental health crisis.

“This innovative pilot is a great example of joint working and has enabled us to work together with other organisations to develop a joined up approach to working together. The project is a real milestone in changing and improving the way we deliver care and in ensuring that people in the area receive the most appropriate care for their needs. We are really looking forward to seeing this approach grow.”

Pete Hannon, Police Inspector at Lancashire Constabulary, said: “Psynergy is a great example of local partner agencies coming together and working together to the benefit of our local communities. The pilot has been extremely successful in reducing the demand placed on us all, from a police perspective the reduction in Section 136 being carried out frees up valuable police officer hours allowing them to deal with other incidents.

“The real benefits are those afforded to vulnerable members of our community who are now able to receive face to face support from suitably trained officers, something we have not been able to do previously. Another added benefit is the great working relationship partners have been able to develop and these relationships will endure and allow us to work closely in the future to tackle other concerns.”

Mark Lewis, Operations Manager at the North West Ambulance Service, said: “Psynergy has demonstrated how true multi-disciplinary working can have such a positive impact. Increasingly, people in crisis have been defaulting to calling 999 because they don’t know where to turn to; our goal is to give these people the right care, at the right time and in the right place, every time. The team rapidly assesses their needs, if they need treatment at hospital then that is provided without delay, but for so many we have exactly the professionals on the vehicle to help them right where they are. There are many services and charities available and the Psynergy Team helps them access these too.”

Head of Department for Emergency Medicine at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Anthony Kearns, said: “The scheme ensures already vulnerable mental health patients don’t have to attend the Emergency Department to access their mental health care. This is beneficial to both the patient and the department.”

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