Mental health care
Over two million Londoners experience poor mental health every year, and our mental health team of specially trained clinicians provide expert and compassionate care and advice to the 13,000 calls related to mental ill-health we receive every month.
A&E is not always the right place for someone experiencing a mental health crisis, and can even be stressful or traumatising. We want to reduce the number of mental health patients we take to A&E as their needs can often be met just as, or even more, effectively in their own homes, in the community or alternative care or services.
To help make this happen, we’ve improved our staff’s mental health training and introduced mental nurses into the clinical hub in our control room. They play a crucial role in assessing and signposting patients to the most appropriate point of care or service in their local community for their needs. They are also an expert clinical resource for our ambulance crews and 999 call-takers and share their high level understanding of some of the symptoms and provide advice on the best ways they can support that patient.
Our new mental health response car
In November 2018 we launched a new way of responding to patients in mental health crisis by joining a paramedic with a mental health nurse so we can treat both their physical and mental health needs, which provides a better and more rounded care approach. We are the first ambulance service in the UK to introduce an initiative of this kind and hope it’ll help us reduce the number of avoidable hospital admissions by almost 50%.
Currently in its pilot phase, our new mental health car responds to 999 calls between 11am and 11pm in south east London. Once our paramedic and mental health nurse team have assessed the patient, they can encourage them to make a GP appointment, refer them to their mental health team, or call an ambulance if they think they need to go to hospital.