Mental health professionals, police, and ambulance staff in Bury have joined forces to improve care for people experiencing a mental health crisis.

The mental health joint response service pilot was launched yesterday by Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS). It involves one of Pennine Care’s mental health clinicians and a police officer jointly attending incidents, where the person is experiencing a mental health crisis. The service will run from 5pm to 1am, which is when GMP receives the highest number of mental health crisis calls.

The aim is to make sure people quickly receive the right support, in the right place, which is vital for their recovery and ensuring a positive experience. The clinician can assess patients at the scene to ensure every appropriate community-based care option is considered, so that A&E, or an admission to a secure section 136 suite (place of safety) are a last resort for those who really need it.

Nearly 1,000 people were admitted to Pennine Care’s 136 suites between April 2020 and March 2021 (latest data). Following assessment, only 16% needed a hospital admission, meaning the majority could have been appropriately and safely treated by a community-based service.

Sharing the success

The pilot service is being launched in Bury following its early success in Oldham and Tameside. 125 people in these boroughs have received support since it launched on 31 January 2022, with each call out taking just over two hours on average.

Thanks to the scheme (to date), 71 patients avoided being taken to A&E and 51 avoided being taken to a section 136 suite. Only 13 patients were taken to A&E and six were taken to a 136 suite.

The remaining patients received various types of support, such as mental health advice, being directed to our 24/7 helpline, referred to their GP, or linked in with their existing care team or co-ordinator.

Dil Jauffur, associate director for Bury, covered the first shift with clinical service manager Sam Noble. He said: “It was great to be working on the frontline again. We supported four patients, helping them avoid A&E or a 136 suite.

“A highlight was supporting a patient with autism. He was very upset and anxious, due to having hallucinations and suicidal thoughts. Human touch is a basic nursing skill, so I held his hand while we triaged which service would best meet his needs. He found it reassuring, which was really rewarding to hear. I’m really looking forward to going out again.”

Karen Maneely, network director of operations for Pennine Care, added: “I’m delighted to be able to offer this fantastic service to people in Bury. The feedback we’ve received from patients and our police and paramedic colleagues has been really positive. Once the pilot ends, I’m confident we’ll have strong evidence to permanently fund this service and roll it out across all five boroughs we cover.”

Greater Manchester Police’s Chief Superintendent for Bury, Chris Hill, said: “I’m really happy that the pilot scheme has come to Bury, following its success in Tameside and Oldham. It will enable us to give a better service to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

Chief Inspector for Bury, Jamie Collins, added: “Working with Pennine Care clinicians and NWAS at the first response ensures that the person is given qualified mental health care from the start. It’ll help to tackle an issue we see on a daily basis and we’re pleased to see it’s already making a real difference.”


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