A partnership between Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH), Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and the North-west Ambulance Service (NWAS), aimed at improving care for people experiencing a mental health crisis, has been hailed a success.
The three organisations joined forces in October 2021 to develop a collaborative response for people in a mental health crisis who dial 999.
The aim was to make sure that people received the right mental health support at the right time and place, to enhance everyone’s chance of making a full recovery quickly; whilst also reducing pressure on frontline services at a time of exceptional demand.
The initiative has been hailed a ‘huge success’ - just six months in, over 1,100 cases have been diverted from frontline NWAS and GMP services, with quality NHS mental health support being provided instead.
Debbie Robinson, Strategic Lead for Urgent and Emergency Care at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) said:
“COVID has had a profound impact on the mental health of our communities, and we know that many people who are struggling with their mental health would benefit from receiving support directly from our services when they phone the ambulance or the police.
“The impact of the pandemic, alongside normal Winter pressures, meant that frontline health services saw an increase in demand. It was so important that we did our part to make sure that people could access mental health care quickly, working with our ambulance and police colleagues.
“In response to this, we collaborated with the North West Ambulance Service and Greater Manchester Police, to see how, by linking up, we could work more effectively to help as many people as possible receive the best care, faster. We established twice-daily meetings, to create new referral pathways, and continue to analyse as we go along.”
Throughout the initiative, ‘huddles’ between GMMH, GMP and NWAS take place every morning and evening, to assess people waiting for an ambulance or police mental health response.
In the twice daily meetings, which continue, professionals discuss the needs of those currently waiting for a response from GMP and NWAS and decide on the best course of action for them, which could include direct referral into GMMH’s services where appropriate or immediate support via the GMMH helpline.
Debbie Robinson continued:
“There are many types of cases discussed in our huddles which vary from people contacting emergency services feeling lonely and not having anybody to speak to, to people who want to contact a mental health team but are not sure where to go.
“Together, we review each case using the information available and decide on the best possible outcome for the person, which is not always taking them to an Accident and Emergency Department. This can include referring them straight through to their local Community Mental Health Team, a local voluntary sector service, or our 24/7 helpline.
“We are delighted to say that the initiative has been a huge success, directly supporting hundreds of people to access the support they need. This is just the start of a more collaborative and mutually beneficial partnership, and we are excited to continue to see a positive impact now and in the future for the people in Greater Manchester who seeking support in a mental health crisis.”
One service user, who would like to remain anonymous said:
“ Just four words sum up the mental health support for me – ‘you saved my life’. I want to say how grateful I am for this immense support throughout my time of need. It is because of this that I have been able to rise up with a heart full of courage, so thank you’’.
Another service user, who would like to remain anonymous said:
“GMMH have helped me though my most difficult times. The mental health services are always there for me when I am most in need. I cannot truly express in words how they have given me a new lease of life. Thank you.”
Lesley Kofoed, Advanced Nurse Practitioner at North West Ambulance Service (NWAS), said:
“This platform is an excellent piece of collaboration between all partners that works for patients. Patient safety is our focus, and by working together, it ensures patients receive the most appropriate care at the right time by the most appropriate service to meet their current need.”
Emma Gilbert, Detective Inspector at Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said:
“’The strong working relationships between the huddle partners ensure that those in most need are provided with the most appropriate service. The partnership has developed so well due to the mutual respect and understanding we have for each of the represented organisations; and everyone involved has the service user at the forefront of their mind. Adjustments to the functioning of the huddles have been made through joint discussions and shared ideas so much so that they are running in a much more efficient way.”