A mental health ambulance car is now on patrol on the streets as part of a ground-breaking pilot project.
The move is a joint initiative involving Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust and the East of England Ambulance Service Trust following funding from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group.
The ambulance will be crewed by a paramedic and a specialist mental health practitioner and will respond to 999 calls across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough where there is a mental health concern.
It will operate for the next three months from 3pm to 1am every day with the aim of reducing the number of people taken to accident and emergency departments and allow them to access urgent care in their own homes.
Jamie Secker, Service Manager for CPFT’s First Response Service, said: “To have an ambulance dedicated to helping those in mental health crisis is a really important step forward.
“It means we can offer rapid support to those with a mental health issue in their own home. Instead of a regular ambulance taking people to an acute hospital, which can often be an inappropriate place for someone in a mental health crisis, our crews can triage people at home and arrange appropriate follow up care.
“Overall it will ensure people get the right care at the right time and if the pilot proves successful, we hope to be able to be expand the service.”
Duncan Moore, Clinical Lead with the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are the first of the localities within the geography we cover to come on board with this model and we will actively be seeking support to expand it across the region.
“Delivering a health-led response to mental health need presenting through 999 services is a priority for EEAST.
“From patient feedback, it was clear the importance of treating patients in mental health need in the right environment which is often away from a busy emergency department and this initiative will also help with an ever-increasing demand being placed on the region’s ambulance Trust and the wider healthcare system.”
The CCG’s lead GP for mental health, Dr Emma Tiffin said: “It’s wonderful news that this project is being piloted, and that specialist mental health staff can work closely with a rapid response team to deliver vital support in the community.
“To get this initiative off the ground at such a hugely challenging time for the health and care service is fantastic, and will hopefully also support the wider system by providing appropriate and timely care.”
CPFT’s First Response Service provides immediate mental health support to those in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough who call the NHS 111 helpline and select option 2.
As part of other developments in mental health crisis care, there is also a team of mental health practitioners who work alongside police call handlers at the force’s headquarters at Hinchingbrooke offering advice to frontline officers when dealing with people in mental health issues.
Overall CPFT employs more than 4,000 staff who provide community physical healthcare for older people and those with long-term conditions, mental healthcare for children and adults, children’s health services in Peterborough, learning disability support and social care support.
Pictured are Jamie Secker from CPFT with colleagues Eddi Paul, Carolyne Coenen, Tobi Adelaja, David Msapato, Cletos Munwanda, and Hebson Mugoro, alongside Nicola Gordon, Edward Topping, Calare Hadley and Samantha Griffen from the East of England Ambulance Service
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