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Black Country Triage team save West Midlands Police £1.8m

By John Scott | News | Published:

A specialist squad has saved West Midlands Police an estimated £1.8m in wasted time since its launch around two and half years ago, it was disclosed today.

Triage supervisor, Sgt Lloyd Fox, front right, with community psychiatric nurse Harriet Lawrence and other members of the specialist squad

Mental health issues account for around 20 per cent of the daily demand on police officers but are now handled in the Black Country by the Triage team.

West Midlands Police triage unit saves force £1.8m

It is headed by a police sergeant and has six constables, three paramedics and four community psychiatric nurses and offers a near round-the-clock service.

They travel together and the mix of skills means the unit has the experience to deal with matters at the scene rather than leaving police or ambulance crews trying to cope alone as the first point of call.

Hundreds of people have been spared unnecessary spells in cells while expert mental health advice is sought and many more have avoided being needlessly taken to accident and emergency departments.

Since its launch in November 2014 the team has had over 7,500 cases passed to them by either the police or ambulance service.

They were able to give expert on-the-spot assessments of 3,000 people suffering from mental health issues, ensuring that three quarters of these could be properly treated while remaining at home.

As a result 689 people avoided being unnecessarily detained under the Mental Health Act by police fearful that they might be in need of care and control. This save the West Midlands force approximately £1,825,000.

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Sgt Lloyd Fox, supervisor for the Triage team said: "This is an excellent example of partnership work, Police and Ambulance respond daily to patients suffering mental ill health and as a service we do not always do or known the best thing to do for the patient, which previously resulted in them being taken to Emergency Departments, placing more pressure on them, or being detained by police unnecessarily.

"Now with Triage they receive more appropriate help and support, remaining at home and release emergency services to deal with other incidents."

Richard Bloore, a paramedic on the team, added: "The Triage car is an invaluable resource for front line crews. It is able to provide specialist advice and on scene assessments to patients. This ensures that patients are signposted to the most appropriate care pathway for their presentation and reduces the need to convey patients to A&E."

Jason Blackwood, a community psychiatric nurse on the team since its launch in November 2014: "Patients receive a more timely assessment when they are in a mental health crisis. This in turn leads to a better outcome for service users, their carers and families, as compared to diverting all service users to the Emergency Department at the local general hospital, as was the case previously."

Clinical Commissioning Groups from Walsall, Wolverhampton, Dudley and Sandwell have just agreed to fund the team for another 12 months.

It operates in a marked West Midlands Ambulance Service responder vehicle, which is also equipped for emergencies and operate seven days a week from 10am to 2am, Sunday to Thursday and 10am to 3am, Friday and Saturdays.

John Scott

By John Scott
Reporter/News Feature Writer

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