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Partnership pledge to improve mental health care in Dorset

Agencies across Dorset have made a pledge to improve the care for people in a mental health crisis by signing up to the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat. The local health care community, local authorities, Police and other partners will now develop a joint plan of action for how they will work together to improve services.

The Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat is a national agreement between services and agencies involved in the care and support of people in crisis. It sets out how organisations will work together better to make sure that people in crisis receive urgent mental health care.

In February 2014, 22 national bodies involved in health, policing, social care, housing, local government and the third sector came together and signed the concordat. It focuses on four main areas: access to support before crisis point; urgent and emergency access to crisis care; quality of treatment and care when in crisis; and recovery and staying well.

Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb, said: "Improving mental health crisis care is a major priority and our Crisis Care Concordat is helping make sure people in distress get the urgent, compassionate care they need.

“I’d like to congratulate Dorset for signing their declaration and strongly urge others to follow suit. Better, more consistent and more collaborative care for people in crisis will not only help those living through their darkest hours to recover, it can also save lives. I want to make sure we cover the whole country by the end of the year so that we rapidly spread best practice.”

Policing Minister Mike Penning said: “The Home Secretary and I have made it a priority to vastly improve the way people with mental health issues are dealt with when they come into contact with the police. I am delighted to see the police force in Dorset has joined theNHS and other agencies to pledge their commitment to the Crisis Care Concordat.​ 

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, the mental health charity said: “We are really pleased to see organisations getting together locally and taking the first steps toward improving the care of people in mental health crisis. We know that where excellent crisis care exists, it saves lives, but too often people fall through the cracks between different services and don’t get the help they need. Local health services, local authorities, the criminal justice system and voluntary organisations must deliver a joined-up service and learn from each other to truly provide the best possible care.”

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner and Chair of the PCC Mental Health Working Group, Martyn Underhill said:  “I am really excited that Dorset agencies have signed up to the Mental Health Concordat. Today marks an important step forwards in our work to improve mental health services in Dorset. It is a building block for the future where locally, professionals will aspire to further improve mental health provision in this county. It is crucial that agencies work together on improving outcomes for people experiencing mental health crisis. The very fact that we needed a Concordat displays the crux of the problem, nationally and here in Dorset. This ground breaking document also strengthens the desire to place people in crisis in appropriate healthcare settings. Here in Dorset, we are leading work to develop action plans to deliver the Mental Health Concordat’s principles. Our pilot street triage scheme is already improving mental health care for those in crisis, which has been recognised by the Home Secretary. We need to make sure that the vulnerable receive the right care, at the right time and in the right place. They need to be looked after by a health care professional, not by a police officer and not in a police cell. Today’s pledge to work together to improve mental health services, demonstrates a commitment from all agencies to tackle this national issue. This is a huge step in the right direction.”

“I know from my patients how important it is to appropriately meet the needs of those with mental health problems who are in distress and come into contact with the emergency services” says Dr Paul French from NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group. He adds, “one patient who lives with a serious mental illness specifically asked me to make sure that mental health staff and police work together so that her needs could be better understood than it has been in the past. I am pleased to able to tell her that this is now happening thanks to this partnership.”

Tony Spotswood, Chief Executive of The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are here to provide excellent care to our patients which is why we have pledged to work closely with our partners to ensure those who have a mental health condition feel safe and supported when they need us most.”

Becky Aldridge, Chief Executive of Dorset Mental Health Forum Said: “As a local peer led organisation that is committed to empowering people with mental health problems to have a voice and be active participants in their own care, we welcome this partnership and the opportunity it presents to put people who access services at the heart of mental health services in Dorset. Recognising individuals as assets and enabling lived experience to influence and support the development of local services is a fundamental step forward in challenging the stigma and discrimination that often exists towards people with mental health problems.”

Ken Wenman, Chief Executive of South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The ambulance service is often the first point of contact for people in a mental health crisis. We are committed to providing the best care and support to these patients and by working closely with other agencies across the county, we can make sure that the most appropriate services are available.”

Bournemouth Borough Council’s Portfolio holder for Mental Health Services, Councillor Blair Crawford, said this was an important step to ensure a joined-up approach to providing mental health services. Councillor Blair added: “Mental health has been for too long the poor relation to other services yet we know that up to a quarter of the population nationally can be affected by a mental health issue. It is important that we all work together to help those with a mental health crisis access the care they need when they need it and by signing up to the concordat Bournemouth Borough Council is showing its commitment to the improvement of mental health care.”

Eugine Yafele, Mental Health Lead for Dorset HealthCare added: “Signing this Concordat underlines our commitment to working with our partners to ensure that everyone receives the urgent support they need, when and where they need it. We have already launched a mental health street triage service with Dorset Police and hope to build on that example of good practice that has been recognised nationally.”

Debbie Fleming, Chief Executive of Poole Hospital, said: “It is critical that we work in close partnership with other agencies and services to ensure people in a mental health crisis receive the right care and support. The new Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat will allow us to look at how we can further improve that care and work collaboratively to develop a system that fully supports people during times of crisis.”

The Operational Lead for Dorset Police, Assistant Chief Constable David Lewis said: “I fully concur with the comments of the Police and Crime Commissioner. Protecting vulnerable people is one of our priorities and I would like to affirm Dorset Police’s absolute commitment to working together with our partners to deliver the Crisis Care Concordat”

For more information about the concordat, visit http://www.crisiscareconcordat.org.uk/

Issued: 19 December 2014