People experiencing a mental health emergency are set to benefit from more tailored emergency care and support following a £150 million injection of government funding.
The funding will be used to build 150 new facilities, helping to ease the strain on overstretched NHS emergency services.
It will also support the procurement of up to 100 new mental health ambulances, which will take specialist staff directly to patients to deliver support on scene or transfer them to the most appropriate place for care.
Meanwhile, 150 new projects will support the provision of mental health crisis response and urgent mental health care.
Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said:
“People in mental health crisis deserve compassionate care in a safe and appropriate setting.
“Too often, they end up in A&E when they should be receiving specialist treatment elsewhere.
“This important funding will make sure they get the help they need, while easing pressures on emergency departments and freeing up staff time – which is a huge priority for the government this winter.”
The new projects include more than 30 schemes providing crisis cafes, crisis houses and other similar safe spaces, as well as over 20 new or improved health-based places of safety which provide a safe space for people detained by the police.
Improvements to NHS 111 and crisis phone lines will also be rolled out as part of the scheme, the government said.
The new ambulances have been designed to provide a calmer environment, offering an alternative to the bright yellow interior of traditional NHS ambulances and using simple NHS service logos, dimmable lighting and space for family and friends to accompany the patient during assessment.
The ambulances are backed by £7 million in government funding.
The remaining £143 million of capital funding will go towards the 150 new mental health projects.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said:
“With the health systems facing huge challenges this winter from the rise in flu, ongoing COVID-19 cases and the impact of the pandemic, we need to ensure people are still receiving the right specialist care.
“These dedicated facilities will ensure patients experiencing a mental health crisis receive the care they need in an appropriate way, while freeing up staff availability including within A&E departments.
“These schemes – along with the up to 100 new mental health ambulances – will give patients across the country greater access to high-quality, tailored support when needed the most.”