Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) has secured funding of £299,000 from NHS England to extend adult mental health services over the winter months. The money, part of an additional £337million of NHS funding announced by the Chancellor in November, will be invested in four LPT initiatives to improve mental health care and help reduce pressure on accident and emergency services across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland .

These are:

  • Mental health ambulance triage service, in partnership with East Midlands
    Ambulance Service (EMAS)
  • An enhanced mental health triage service in Emergency Department;
  • Expansion of LPT’s mental health crisis and home treatment services;
  • Funding short-term ‘move on accommodation for mental health patients

Partnership work with EMAS to deliver a mental health triage service

Nationally, a quarter of patients engaging with ambulance services have mental health needs. Prompt access to triage and treatment could prevent significant numbers attending at A and E before they can access mental health services.

A ‘mental health triage ambulance scheme’ was piloted by LPT with EMAS between July 2016 and
March 2017. It demonstrated the service could reduce avoidable A and E attendances by around 950 a year. The additional funding will enable LPT to provide a mental health practitioner working with a paramedic to support an all-age ambulance mental health triage car from mid January.

The service will operate during ‘peak demand’ hours of 4pm to midnight five days a week. The team will respond to patients across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland who are or have experienced a mental health or social crisis. Working together, the crew will assess patients and identify appropriate care. The service will also offer triage advice to EMAS crews on the scene and, where appropriate, provide assessments at home.

An enhanced mental health triage service in Emergency Department

The Trust provides a round-the clock mental health triaging service in Leicester Royal Infirmary’s Emergency Department, supporting more than 3,500 people each year, including signposting them to appropriate support or specialist services. Demand increases over the winter and the funding will support the expansion of the team with an
additional mental health practitioner, reducing the waiting times in ED for patients with mental health needs.

Expansion of LPT’s mental health crisis and home treatment services

LPT’s adult mental health crisis team receives around 2,300 calls each month from referrers and service users. On average, calls are answered within two minutes. The new funding will support recruitment of two additional staff to answer and triage the calls between 7am and 9pm, improving response times and reducing the number of abandoned calls. Individuals who attend A&E with mental health needs will get faster access to specialist mental health care. The funding will also be used to increase the team’s crisis and home treatment service, boosting the support available for people in the community.

Funding short-term ‘move on’ accommodation for mental health patients who are well enough to return to the community after an inpatient stay at the Bradgate Unit, but who are prevented from doing so because of delays with longer-term accommodation. It is anticipated that this move will improve the availability of acute mental health beds at the Bradgate Unit, reducing the risk of long waits in A&E for patients who are waiting for a bed to be found, and helping to avoid inappropriate admissions to Leicester Hospitals’ wards.

Chris Crane, service manager for LPT’s adult mental health crisis, liaison and triage services, said: “The extra funding for mental health services over the winter weeks is a fantastic opportunity to enhance our current services both in crisis treatment and our mental health team at the Leicester Royal Infirmary. “We are pleased to reintroduce the EMAS project which will reduce the need for people having to attend the Emergency Department when their needs can be met within their
own home. This funding gives us the opportunity to increase our support to people with mental health issues and the teams providing the service.”

Terry Simpson, EMAS mental health lead said: “We are excited to work in collaboration with Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust to ensure patients have access to the right care without unnecessary emergency department (ED) attendance. Increasingly as an ambulance trust we are responding to patients with complex mental health and social care needs. Through this joint initiative we can improve patient experience and partnership working.”

Jim Bosworth, associate director for commissioning and contracting at East Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are delighted to receive this support for excellent joint work with our partners. Over the next few months, this much needed boost will benefit adults suffering from mental health issues by improving access and care across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.”