Response to a letter from Healthwatch Norfolk about the national Right Care, Right Person model

23rd June 2023

NHS Norfolk and Waveney received a letter from Healthwatch Norfolk, asking how NHS Norfolk and Waveney ICB and the wider health and care system is planning to respond to the recently announced right care, right person model.

Our response, with support from the wider health and care system, dated 23 June 2023, is included below.

Dear Alex

Thank you for your letter. This is an important issue that we are going to work through as a system, alongside the work we need to do to improve mental health services, including crisis care. You make many good points and raise a lot of the things we are looking at. We are very mindful of the need to carefully plan how we implement this, so that we meet what is expected of us nationally, but that we do so in a way that will work in our local context.

Of course the aim of Right Care, Right Person is not stop the police from continuing to perform their key role of keeping people safe. Where there is a real and immediate risk to life or serious harm – whether that be a person seeking to harm themselves or to harm others – officers will respond swiftly as they currently do. But we need to get the implementation right. All partners are committed to working collaboratively and carefully together to implement the model and we will take our time to ensure that we plan for it properly. The model won’t be introduced until later this year and it is being planned in phases.

On your point about involving people affected by mental ill health, their family members, carers and support networks, we have an independently facilitated lived experience reference group that we will work with on this. We are at the start of the work to implement the model locally, so we are also at the start of working with that group and planning how we will involve people.

As we are at the start of the work to implement the model, it is too early to be able to directly answer your first and second questions (and the constabulary will be better placed to answer your third question). What I think it is important to say is that effective crisis care is vital and we have made some important investments and changes to services. The opening of the five wellbeing hubs, the 24/7 crisis support telephone line / 111 mental health option and the two mental health joint response cars are all positive steps in the right direction, and there are more examples on our website of investments and changes we have made.  

We have more to do, in particular to embed the changes we have made and to join-up crisis care, all of which we are working on at the moment. We haven’t seen the full benefit of the changes we have made yet. The cultural point I think is important here, building relationships between providers and making sure that everyone sees themselves as having responsibility for mental health, it is not just the role of NSFT. And of course it is worth noting that how well crisis services perform relates to how well the whole system is working, so it’s important to consider all the work we are doing to transform mental health care, including on prevention and community care.

It is also worth noting that the Department for Health and Social Care is working with NHS England on guidance for integrated care boards and mental health trusts, which is expected by the end of July 2023. So how we respond locally will need to take account of that guidance once it has been published.

Just on your point about communications around this, we certainly don’t want to cause stress or to worry people. This change was announced nationally, which naturally made people wonder what it would mean for them and for local services. We will do our best to make sure that our communications about this are clear and to reassure people as much as we can.

I am keen that you understand our proposed approach to doing this work and would welcome any thoughts you have, so I have asked our Acting Director for Mental Health Transformation to reach out to you – they would be very happy to meet.

Best wishes

Tracey Bleakley

Chief Executive Officer

NHS Norfolk and Waveney