Mental health urgent care department in development for Mid and South Essex

After an investment of more than £5 million from Mid and South Essex ICS, Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) is collaborating with health and social care partners across the region on the development of an “innovative” mental health urgent care department”.

The ICS recognises that that “hospital emergency departments are not always the right environment for people experiencing mental health problems” and states that that the new department will “provide an alternative, calm and therapeutic space with access to mental health specialists”.

The design of the department is to “meet high standards of comfort and safety, and will involve local health and care partners and people with lived experience of mental health problems”.

Described as “the first of its kind in Essex”, the new department will be open for walk-ins, as well as referrals through GP services and the 111 service, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will be staffed by a team of specialist doctors, nurses, along with other healthcare professionals from EPUT, Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust and East of England Ambulance Service. In addition, support will be provided from community services and the charitable sector.

Alfred Bandakpara-Taylor, lead for adult mental mealth at the ICS, says: “These significant changes will not only reduce pressure on vital hospital services, they will allow more patients to be supported locally and improve people’s experience of mental health care.”

Patient involvement group members have also commented upon the new department, calling it “a great additional resource” and adding: “Mental health crises are unique for each individual; there is no ‘one size fits all’ but for a long time this has been the approach when people in mental health crisis visit A&E. The urgent care department will give professionals greater opportunity to provide person-focused care and respond to each individual’s needs.”