Emergency mental health response service expanded to support more people in crisis

25th November 2022

A service which attends 999 mental health emergency calls in Norfolk has been expanded to include extra help at weekends.

The mental health response car service – which is jointly operated by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) and East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) – is staffed by mental health professionals and dispatched to attend patients who call 999 during a mental health emergency.

The service was launched in November 2021 with one vehicle working three days a week before being quickly expanded to five days and now runs every day of the week, 2pm-2am.

NHS Norfolk and Waveney has now increased funding to provide an additional car to operate Saturday, Sunday and Monday between 1pm and 1am.

In the last year, the service has supported people in mental health crisis 492 times. Of those, 84% of those seen were able to be treated by mental health professionals in the community, meaning a reduction in the number of people sent to acute hospitals.

Stuart Richardson, Chief Executive of NSFT, said: “We are pleased to be working collaboratively with our NHS partners in the region to transform mental health services. Providing innovative services directly helps patients with their specific needs and ensures people receive care on time.”

Melissa Dowdeswell, Director of Nursing, Quality & Safety and acting Chief Operating Officer at EEAST, said: “This early intervention of mental health-trained specialists is better for patients and the overall NHS as it can help avoid transporting patients in mental health crisis to busy emergency departments which are often not the most suitable environment for their needs.”

Tricia D’Orsi, Director of Nursing Nurse from NHS Norfolk and Waveney, said: “We know that people in mental health crisis can find busy A&E departments distressing. Our continued investment in the joint response service is ensuring that more people in crisis can be treated in their own homes and referred to local services for support.”