GPs in the capital are to receive specialist training in how to deal with patients suffering mental health crises, under new standards announced by NHS England today.
Practice nurses and other community staff in London will also receive the training, which is being introduced in accordance with new ‘Mental Health Crisis Commissioning Standards’ unveiled by NHS England’s London area team.
Other provisions outlines in the new standards include access to a 24-hour telephone help line for patients in crisis and ‘crisis houses’ offering psychiatric care and support, alongside 24-hour crisis resolution teams. The standards’ developers also say that mental health services should prepare crisis care plans in advance for all at-risk service users.
The standards were developed in response to an agreement by the Department of Health and Mind with the aim of bringing urgent mental health care in line with emergency health care for physical illness.
This was after the charity found that 86% of people suffering from mental illness in the capital ‘need more help’, according to research conducted in 2011-14..
Experts from 22 organisations – including NHS England, Mind, the Metropolitan police, and local council – are due to meet today to discuss the implementation of the new standards, which also state that hospital A&E departments should provide 24-hour pysch liaison teams and dedicated areas for mental health assessments.
NHS England have called on local authorities, health services, the police and voluntary organisations to work together to help patients access the support they need.
Dr Nick Broughton, of the London Mental Health Strategic Clinical Network, highlighted the current gap in standards of care between physical and mental illness.
He said: ‘If a person suffers a heart attack, they know what health care to expect, but in the case of a mental health emergency, the care is far more variable. Excellent crisis care exists in London, but it’s not consistent. These standards are about increasing the accessibility and consistency of services across the capital.’
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, the mental health charity said: ‘We are really pleased to see organisations getting together locally and taking the first steps toward improving the care of people in mental health crisis. We know that where excellent crisis care exists, it saves lives, but too often people fall through the cracks between different services and don’t get the help they need.
‘Local health services, local authorities, the criminal justice system and voluntary organisations must deliver a joined-up service and learn from each other to truly provide the best possible care.’