The work of the police and health professionals frequently intersects – often in the aftermath of crises involving physical injury and not always due to criminality. In these situations, a person is treated at the scene or conveyed to hospital by ambulance or sometimes police van.
Either way, bodily traumas are dealt with as speedily as possible. However, if the injury is mental, not purely physical, the issue is not so clear cut. Close working between police officers and mental health professionals becomes even more important to make sure timely treatment and care is deployed in clinical settings not police cells.
That’s why it’s gratifying to report that the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat, the programme of joint commitments between police and health services to improve care for people experiencing psychological issues, has more than halved use of police cells as “places of safety”. It is also helping to improve ambulance response times.
These successes are due in large part to the introduction of local street triage schemes – where police forces and health professionals are working together to assess and help those in the midst of psychological crisis. The schemes are relatively new but in the areas where they have been deployed they are yielding truly positive results. The first ever Street Triage EXPO has just been held in Leicester (where the street triage concept was born) to celebrate these successes and discuss how they can be developed further.
The Concordat’s – and by association street triage’s – success is sure to galvanise local areas to step up their commitments to improving crisis care.
The Government recently announced an extra £15 million next year to provide more places of safety for those detained under the Mental Health Act.
The news that the Care Quality Commission has also begun to inspect local health services to assess the quality of care for patients in crisis has also been broadly welcomed.
Meanwhile, we hope to bring you a review of the first Street Triage EXPO on this site later this week. Watch this space.