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FEB 25/2014

New mental health crisis care improvement scheme announced

Specialist mental health nurses could be set to see their expertise called upon more frequently following the introduction of new crisis care improvement plans.

Unveiled by government ministers this week, the Crisis Care Concordat has been signed by more than 20 national organisations in order to drive up standards of care for people experiencing crises such as suicidal thoughts or significant anxiety. Police, mental health trusts and paramedics will join forces to accelerate progress in this area.

The concordat challenges local areas to make sure that health-based places of safety and beds are available 24/7, in case someone experiences a mental health crisis. Not only will this aid their chances of recovery, it will help to prevent the wholly unacceptable practice of mentally ill people being detained in police custody during their period of distress.

Efforts will be made to reduce the number of occasions in which police cells are used as a place of safety for people in mental health crisis by half compared to 2011/12, with timescales to be put in place so police know how long they have to wait for a response from health and social care workers.

Meanwhile, services will begin to share essential need to know information about patients to ensure they always receive the highest quality of care and a 24-hour helpline will be made available for people with mental health problems.

Steps will also be taken to understand and address the fact that black and minority ethnic groups tend to be detained more frequently under the Mental Health Act.

Norman Lamb, care and support minister, said: "It is imperative that all areas seek to implement the principles of the concordat as quickly as possible to ensure consistent care, no matter where you live.

"Better care for people in mental health crises will not only help those living through their darkest hours to recover - it can also save lives."

This comes as part of a wider plan of action by the government to enhance standards of mental health care, ensuring this field of wellness is treated with equal importance as physical health.

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