Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and Merseyside Police have today jointly launched a new bespoke mental health triage car to help those in crisis on Merseyside get urgent assessment and access to the services they need.
The two organisations, in conjunction with Liverpool and Sefton Clinical Commissioning Groups, have run a triage car service since 2014, until now using a marked police car that has been removed from frontline duties because of the number of miles it had driven.
But after a successful joint application to the Department of Health and Social Care’s Beyond Places of Safety Fund, a £15 million fund made available to focus on improving urgent mental healthcare in local areas, they have secured finance to launch a state of the art new triage car.
Marian Bullivant, Mersey Care’s Criminal Justice Liaison and Diversion and Triage Care Operational Manager, said: “The mental health triage car initiative has been a great success for all parties – it has helped free up police resources and allowed us to reach people in crisis and provide the assessment and care they need.
“This new triage car will enable us to reach more people who need us and strengthens the partnership between ourselves and Merseyside Police. We’ve learned a lot on both sides about how we each work and shared best practice to ensure a highly successful working relationship.”
Merseyside Police’s Mental Health Liaison Officer, Hayley Sherwen, said: “Too often, the police deal with vulnerable people when really they should be signposted to other emergency services who are better placed to support them.
“The triage car allows us to operate more efficiently with our partners and engage more openly with individuals in crisis. The service encounters individuals in both public places or in their own homes and aims to provide them with the safety and confidence to explain their situation to the team.
“The car has already been a great success, in terms of dealing with frequent callers to the police and reducing inappropriate calls. Along with providing this on-the-go service, the triage car is also fully equipped with relevant leaflets, dried food and toiletries to again provide a safe environment and support the basic needs of service users.
“We hope to continue offering this service and building upon the successes that we have already seen in order to help our Merseyside communities more effectively going forward.”
The £25,000 provided by the Fund has allowed the purchase of an unmarked Mercedes Vito, which will be decorated by inconspicuous signage to identify the two organisations running the service.
It also has several bespoke features inside the car that will help provide a more relaxed environment to engage with those in crisis including a seat that allows the option of turning to face the rear seat and a table in between.
The service consists of a police officer and a mental health practitioner in the vehicle, which responds to calls to the police which may have a mental health theme. It operates seven days a week during the afternoon and evening until midnight.