A successful partnership between Cumbria Police and Cumbria, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) to help people in crisis has been shortlisted for the NHS Collaboration Award in the 2022 Health Business Awards.
The partnership, known as the Street Triage Team, sees mental health clinicians from CNTW, provider of specialist mental health and disability services across the region, and police officers teaming up to support people who come into contact with the police during a mental health crisis. Health care professionals and police officers take part in a joint training course to prepare them for the role.
We are thankful that our work has been recognised and will endeavour to continue to work together as agencies to support those in need of mental health support.Deborah MawsonMental Health Nurse, CNTW
Deborah Mawson, Registered Mental Health Nurse who is part of the partnership, says: “On behalf of the Street Triage Team in Cumbria, I can say we are all absolutely delighted to be shortlisted for the Health Business Award.
“We are thankful that our work has been recognised and will endeavour to continue to work together as agencies to support those in need of mental health support.
“The venture has led to an extraordinary collaboration and has improved the relationship between our two public services.”
When Cumbria Police respond to an incident, the Street Triage Team will be asked to attend if officers believe that someone involved is experiencing a mental health crisis or is in severe distress. At the scene, they can assess the person’s mental state face-to-face in the teams’ modified, unmarked vehicles, which enable private conversations in a safe and discrete space.
The team discuss the most appropriate way to support the person and create a ‘safety plan’ with them. They can also refer them on to other support services if needed and perform a follow-up wellbeing check with the person 24 – 48 hours after the incident.
Through this service, CNTW and Cumbria Police are working to reduce unnecessary police detention of people in crisis. Police have powers under section 136 of the Mental Health Act to take immediate control of someone who they deem is a high risk to themselves or others. But those powers can sometimes lead to unnecessary detention that is distressing and unhelpful for the individual. In many cases, experienced clinicians can help a person onto the right support pathways without the need for them to be detained. This is what the Street Triage Team aims to do.
And so far, they have seen very successful results. Between May 2021 and June 2022, the Street Triage Team in the East of Cumbria have prevented 188 unnecessary detentions (occasions when, without the Team’s support, police may previously have needed to use Section 136 powers to detain somebody).
The teams have completed over 500 face-to-face assessments to support people in crisis and have also provided remote advice and support on more than a thousand other occasions.
And the team have received glowing feedback from those they have supported, with comments such as: “I felt listened to when I needed support,” “They listen and help you make a plan,” and “They made me feel reassured and safe.”
The success of this service is a great example of what we can achieve by working together with our partner agencies to understand and address the demand around mental health.Dan St QuintinDetective Superintendent, Cumbria Police
Explaining the importance of the Street Triage Team, Detective Superintendent Dan St Quintin said: “Over the past few years, the constabulary has seen an increase in the number of calls for service in which people are in crisis, in complex and difficult situations, and are potentially a harm to themselves or others.
“As a force our priority is to keep people safe. The Street Triage Team enables us to do this, getting people in crisis the most appropriate support as quickly as possible.
“The success of this service is a great example of what we can achieve by working together with our partner agencies to understand and address the demand around mental health.”
The service was successfully piloted in Carlisle in the summer of 2021. Since January 2022 a second Street Triage Team has been supporting people the West of Cumbria (including Whitehaven, Workington, Cockermouth, Keswick, and Wigton).
The Health Business Awards have been staged annually since 2010 to recognise examples of innovation and excellence within the NHS. The winners will be announced live online on Thursday 15th December at 1pm.