The plans were discussed and approved by members of the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Groups’ (LLR CCGs) joint Governing Body at their meeting on Tuesday 14th December.

The decision follows the Step Up to Great Mental Health public consultation to which 6,650 people across LLR responded.

Andy Williams, Chief Executive of the LLR CCGs, said: “The consultation showed significant support from our communities for these proposals, which will improve urgent mental health and will deliver care closer to where people live.

“At the same time as sharing their opinions on the proposals, many people – both service users and carers – also told us about their personal experiences of mental health services. We are really grateful to them for taking the time and effort to share their insights, and we would like to assure them that we have taken this on board and we are committed to ensuring that the learning from these insights will be incorporated into the design of future services.”

Angela Hillery, Chief Executive of Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, said: “It has been really encouraging to see the level of support for our proposals. We will now work hand in hand with our communities as we implement these improvements to services, to ensure that services are truly responsive and meet the needs of our local population, so people can access urgent care easily and receive more co-ordinated.

“We would like to thank everyone who shared their views through the consultation, especially the voluntary and community sector, who helped us to get responses from people that we have not heard from previously. We received feedback from a truly diverse range of people and one in four responses were from carers, whose views often do not get heard.”

The improvements to mental health services will be wide ranging and will include establishing a permanent Central Access Point, where people needing support with their mental health can contact services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by phone, text message or using British Sign Language or interpretation facilities. This service was first introduced as a short-term measure in April 2020, during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, but this service will now be made permanent.

Anyone needing mental health support for themselves or others can contact the Central Access Point on 0808 800 3302.

One other initiative set up as a response to Covid-19 will also be made permanent. The Mental Health Urgent Care Hub sees patients of all ages who need more intensive and urgent support, following referral by emergency services, social care or other health professionals. The Hub is an environment specifically for people with mental health needs and is a more suitable alternative than the Emergency

A further key development will be the expansion of Crisis Cafes, which offer a safe space where people can get help if they are experiencing a mental health crisis. There are currently three Crisis Cafes; over the next four years a further 22 will be established across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

The multi-million pound investment will enable services to be both reorganised and strengthened. This will enable significant improvements to services to support the health and wellbeing of people and their families across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.