A new team to help people with complex mental health needs is being piloted in Southend.
A police officer and two mental health professionals from the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) will work with individuals who regularly contact the emergency and health services at times of crisis.
Working with those individuals, they will produce personalised crisis response plans based on their needs and ongoing treatment.
When they call emergency or NHS services at a time of crisis, call-takers can check their care plan to ensure they receive the most appropriate care.
The Southend High Intensity Focus Team (SHIFT) will be based in the community safety hub at the town’s police station in Victoria Avenue.
They have been in place from Thursday 1 August and the pilot scheme will be funded by the NHS for a year.
Southend district commander Chief Inspector Neil Pudney said: “We already work closely with the NHS and we hope this project will help support those people in our district who have the most complex needs.
“Having a team working together in our community safety hub will allow our officers and NHS partners provide a better service to vulnerable individuals.
“It is vital that someone in crisis receives the most appropriate care and treatment, in order to reduce the risk they pose to themselves and other people.
“Around 40 per cent of calls to Essex Police as a whole are requests to help people experiencing a mental health crisis, but we are not always the most suitable organisation to help.
“That’s why this project is so important. The care plans use a combination of intervention and mentoring to ensure they get the best help and reduce the risk of them reaching levels of crisis.
“This will also help reduce demand across our emergency services, who faced with sometimes extremely challenging situations.”
Andy Brogan, executive chief operating officer for EPUT, said: “Providing treatment and support to improve the lives of people experiencing mental health issues is at the core of what we seek to achieve as a Trust.”
Dr José Garcia Lobera, chair and local GP clinical lead for mental health at NHS Southend Clinical Commissioning Group said: “This project is very exciting.
“By combining the skills and expertise of mental health professionals and the police, we hope to bring healthier and safer care so that some of our most complex service users can access the services they truly need.
“This is a fantastic example of how, collectively, local health and care partners can work together to transform services and improve patient health as outlined in NHS England’s long term plan earlier this year.”
The Southend High Intensity Focus Team