Supporting patients living with mental health problems and/or dementia, North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) has officially launched its new Mental Health and Dementia Strategic Plan (2019 – 2022). 

Put in place as part of the trust’s aim is to be the best ambulance service in the country by delivering the right care, at the right time, in the right place; every time; the plan supersedes NWAS’ previous Mental Health Improvement Plan (2017–2022).  It details 17 recommendations, including a range of actions for each of these recommendations, which collectively aim to shape and transform mental health and dementia care within the trust over the next three years.  

The plan is reflective of the relevant mental health and dementia related aspirations detailed within the Five Year Forward Plan for Mental Health (2016), the NHS Long Term Plan (2019) and the Prime Ministers Challenge for Dementia (2015).

The recommendations and associated actions are based on extensive scoping and appraisal of care provision between January and July 2019 including feedback from staff, patients and partners within mental health across the North West region.

One example of the 17 recommendations is to review and learn from the mental health triage car pilots currently taking place within the Merseyside and Lancashire areas, and agree a trust wide plan for the future.   

The current pilot operating in Lancashire is called Psynergy and was launched last December in Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre, and involves a paramedic, a senior mental health nurse from Lancashire Care and a police officer coming together as a crew in a vehicle to jointly respond to people experiencing a mental health crisis.  The aim is to provide appropriate triage, offer the right care and advice, improve patient experience and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.

The pilot has already proven to improve outcomes for appropriate patients, and results in better use of ambulance resources and multi-agency working, ultimately leading to financial benefit to the wider NHS.    

In year one of this particular recommendation, the trust will undertake a detailed and comprehensive review of the two pilots and work collaboratively with partners and commissioners to secure funding streams to widen this excellent service. 

Gill Drummond, Mental Health and Dementia Lead for NWAS said: “The work regarding mental health and dementia care already being undertaken by the trust is fantastic, but there is so much more we can do to.  The number of related 999 calls is increasing significantly, which is why one of the trust’s key priority areas is to improve care in this area, and why we have developed a plan to take this forward.”

To read more about the other 16 recommendations, the full plan is available to download here.

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