The Crisis Care Concordat is an important step forward for people requiring urgent mental health assessment and care. Crisis provision can all too often feel like a lottery, depending on where you live, the time of day and what else may be happening within a stretched system. This new agreement outlines some basic principles that should always apply; I welcome the intention that this will drive up standards of effective, compassionate care that patients and carers can expect.
The paradox that the more unwell you are, the harder it can be to receive appropriate care is seen too frequently; many patients, carers and GP's will have first-hand experience of this. The Concordat aims to ensure that the use of police custody for people experiencing mental health crisis because of lack of local hospital provision is halved. I would challenge further to say that it should become obsolete, as we are all clearly saying it is unacceptable.
The Concordat also sees joint working between a number of national organisations, including the Department of Health, Home Office, Royal College of Psychiatrists, MIND and the ambulance services. This ensures that everyone’s voice is heard and encourages the principle that services are co-ordinated ‘on the ground’. Initiatives such as street triage and liaison and diversion services from police stations are also welcomed but we must ensure against such front line improvements coming at the expense of available services further down the care pathway. In this way we will truly see improvements to mental health care and a closure of the gap in disparity between physical and mental illness.
Dr Laurence Church, Consultant Psychiatrist, Priory Hospital Woking.
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