Anyone experiencing a mental health emergency would benefit from more tailored emergency care and support in the community through specialized mental health ambulances, more crisis services and better health-based places of safety.
£150 million investment by April 2025 to better support people who are experiencing – or at risk of experiencing – a mental health crisis, to access care and support in more appropriate settings outside A&E, before coming to the NHS Will help in reducing the pressures.
Patients with mental health problems are twice as likely to spend 12 hours or more in emergency departments than other patients. While some of these patients will be in A&E for urgent medical care, we know that often they will be better treated elsewhere.
The funding will allow for the purchase of 100 new mental health ambulances, which will take specialist staff directly to patients to provide support on the scene or transfer them to the most appropriate location for care.
It will also fund 150 new projects focused on supporting mental health crisis response and the provision of urgent mental health care. New projects include more than 30 schemes providing Crisis Cafes, Crisis Houses and other similar safe places, as well as more than 20 new or improved health-based places of safety that provide a safe place for people detained by police provide. Improvements to NHS 111 and emergency phone lines will also be introduced.
In the midst of a challenging winter, the government is doing everything it can to ease pressure on the NHS, particularly A&E, by ensuring people get the care they need in the most appropriate settings.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
People with a mental health crisis deserve compassionate care in a safe and appropriate setting. Too often, they end up in A&E when they should be getting specialist treatment elsewhere.
This vital funding will ensure they get the help they need, while reducing pressure on emergency departments and freeing up staff time – a big priority for the government this winter.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said:
As health systems face huge challenges this winter from a rise in flu, Covid cases and the impact of the pandemic, we need to make sure people are still getting the right specialist care.
These dedicated facilities will ensure that patients experiencing a mental health crisis receive the care they need appropriately, as well as freeing up staff availability within A&E departments.
These plans – along with 100 new mental health ambulances – will give patients across the country greater access to high-quality, tailored support when they need it most.
The new ambulance has been designed to provide a calm environment, avoiding the bright yellow interior of a traditional NHS ambulance and featuring simple NHS service logos, dim lighting and using space for family and friends to accompany the patient during the assessment for. They are supported by £7 million in government funding.
The remaining £143 million of capital funding, announced in the 2021 spending review, will go towards 150 new projects. Investment will be made in providing and improving a range of places to support people experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, a mental health crisis. This includes the redesign and refurbishment of existing mental health suites and facilities, creating spaces outside A&E and expanding the crisis line, including new mental health urgent assessment and care centers and emergency departments.
With planned projects located across the country, the 150 schemes support a wider government commitment to mental health and wellbeing levels across the country – including some of the most deprived local authority areas in England.
Programs will also focus on preventive measures, including improving sanctuary places, improving mental well-being, and community mental health facilities that will work to help people before they reach crisis point.
It builds on our existing plans to improve mental health services. We are investing at least £2.3 billion of extra money a year until April 2024 to expand and transform mental health services in England so that two million more people are able to get the mental health support they need.
There are now 24/7 NHS open access urgent mental health helplines in every region; The helpline is currently taking around 200,000 calls per month, with only 1 to 2% reported to be directed to 999 or A&E. In the community, NHS Mental Health Support Teams are being introduced in schools and colleges to provide early mental health support to children and young people, we aim to reach 35% of pupils by the end of this year.
It comes as the government committed to increasing mental health spending by 8.9% of all NHS funding.
NHS Director of Mental Health Claire Murdoch said:
Despite the disruption caused by the pandemic, the NHS is on track to meet its long-term planning commitment to increase mental health spending by £2.3 billion a year, providing around 4.5 million adults and more than 700,000 young people access to mental health services have been
As well as expanding capacity to meet record demand, the NHS is transforming mental health services to help people receive more appropriate care when they contact services, and this investment will deploy specialist mental health ambulances new crisis cafes will be opened, and existing facilities will be modernised. Providing immediate and emergency mental health care to those who need it.
So as always, anyone who needs help should not hesitate to contact the NHS to get the care they need.
Ollie Parker, Head of External Affairs at YoungMinds, said:
We welcome further investment in the ways that young people can access support and hope that this is one way of ensuring appropriate settings for those experiencing a mental health crisis.
Ultimately, we want to prevent young people from reaching crisis in the first place by having better access to early help. That’s why we expect the government to publish a long-term plan for mental health, and with young people at the heart of it.
Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:
It is good to see a renewed commitment of £150 million of government funding to mental health services. With referrals reaching record levels over the past year, the pressure on acute care is immense. We welcome investment to build and improve 150 new services that will help those most in need in some of the most disadvantaged communities.
It is clear that more efforts should be made to reach out to people as quickly and as quickly as possible. The concept of adapted emergency care is a positive one, and we are pleased to see the investment of 100 new specialist mental health ambulances, staffed by both physical and mental health care professionals.
This will go some way in easing the pressure on the system, however, we must remember that these times are difficult for all, with the crisis of living, the demand for mental health services will continue to increase.
- As Minister Maria Caulfield announced today, the government’s mental health spending will rise in the coming financial year, to 8.92% of the total recurring expenditure we expect.
- The government is investing £150 million of capital in NHS mental health crisis response and urgent and emergency care services by April 2025. This includes £7 million for the purchase of specialized mental health ambulances, with the remaining £143 million to provide access to new and improve existing mental health crisis response infrastructure. This includes schemes such as Crisis Cafe, Crisis House and Crisis Hub. Step-down services, mental health urgent assessment and care centers, crisis line upgrades and improvements to health-based locations of the security and emergency department are also being funded.
- Crisis cafes and similar (eg safe havens, sanctuaries) provide a safe and supportive space for people nearing or experiencing a mental health crisis. They can act as an alternative to A&E, providing support to people in the community. Crisis houses provide more intensive, but still community-based support, including allowing overnight stays for people experiencing a mental health crisis.