‘Radical change’ needed to fix health crisis care in NHS, says NHSCC

A “radical change” is needed to make emergency mental health care “minimally adequate,” and address inequalities and improve mental health crisis care, a major international report has found.

The report published by NHS Clinical Commissioners (NHSCC) said that care for people in mental health crises does not adequately address the needs of the community it serves, and outlined 10 recommendations for government agencies, policy makers and health and social services.

Agreed by delegates at an international summit in May 2018, the recommendations cover a host of fundamental changes to the way emergency mental health services are delivered within the NHS.

Recommendations included ending the current fragmentation of care by using an integrated, systematic approach to health crisis care at a national level.

The report recommended developing a crisis service alternative to the usual emergency measures of assessment and inpatient care, special consideration for armed forces veterans, and the creation of a national three-digit NHS crisis number for those who need it.

The NHSCC said that family and friends should be fully engaged with crisis care, and that users and carers should be embedded in the design and leadership of crisis systems.

A zero-suicide approach should be taken by all government agencies and policy-makers, and balanced scorecard dashboards that display real-time data would support quality improvement.

Integrated care featured heavily in the report, which recommended implementing integrated health information exchange technology which would “enable seamless care across organisations.”

It concluded that significant system-wide investment is also needed to deliver all these recommendations.

The report, ‘Be the change: Ensuring an effective response to all in psychiatric emergency equal to medical care,’ was published by NHSCC.

At the summit in May, the NHSCC and RI International brought together commissioners, providers, GPs, psychiatrics, service users and first responders such as ambulance workers from both the UK and US. They found that despite cultural, systemic and geographical differences, the challenges faced by both countries were “remarkably similar.”

Dr Phil Moore, chair of NHSCC’s Mental Health Commissioners’ Network, who wrote in the latest issue of NHE, said: “Change is desperately needed in mental health crisis care, but it is possible.

“The NHS is at a crucial moment of its development, with a tremendous opportunity to impact how we care for those experiencing the most acute behavioural health needs.

“We need to disrupt the status quo, and make sure services say ‘yes’ at times of behavioural health crisis.”

Moore added: “We need national commitment and leadership to coordinate all the organisations that encounter people experiencing a mental health crisis, as well as significant investment from the government to transform crisis care.” 

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Image credit - mediaphotos


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