Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust (LSCft), in collaboration with Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, has launched a new Mental Health Urgent Assessment Centre (MHUAC) in Blackpool.
The MHUAC, which opened this week is located next to the A&E department at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, where work is underway to create an Emergency Village, enhancing and expanding emergency care.
It has been established as a safe and calm assessment space for service users who are experiencing urgent mental health needs and have no coronavirus symptoms or physical injuries.
The centre has three purpose built assessment rooms for service users and their carers. With access to highly trained mental health nurses, consultant psychiatrists, support workers, and trainee nursing associates, service users will be assessed, supported and treated as required.
Chief Executive of Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, Caroline Donovan, said: “We really want to make sure that people who are in crisis with their mental health are able to get the help they need immediately.
“We have been working closely with colleagues at Blackpool Victoria Hospital to develop an improved environment for service users and provide a safe space for them to access support.”
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals identified a suitable area to accommodate the unit and the enhanced service forms part of the Emergency Village and Critical Care development plan, a £25 million improvement scheme to enhance and expand emergency and critical care services for the Fylde coast.
Natalie Hudson, Director of Operations (Urgent and Emergency Care) at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are delighted to be able to work in partnership with LSCFT to support this facility for the residents of the Fylde coast.
“The new unit will be instrumental in enabling the Trust to give the best care to people attending with a mental health crisis. Our Emergency Department is extremely busy and is not the best environment for someone experiencing mental health crisis. The new unit will provide a much improved experience for patients and aid a faster recovery from their crisis situation.”
Mark Worthington, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist and Deputy Chief Medical Officer said: “This is such an important step towards offering improved mental health services and emergency care to the Fylde Coast. The opening of the MHUAC will enable us to not only offer an improved environment for those service users in need, it will allow us to work in close partnership with the Emergency Department in quickly assessing & supporting our service users”.
Emergency Village and Critical Care development clinical lead for the Emergency Department (ED), Dr Adeline Israel said: “This new mental health model being developed to provide an alternative pathway for patients accessing emergency departments is a milestone in transforming emergency mental health care.
“It is acknowledged that emergency departments are busy, high stimulus environments and are not the ideal place for patients suffering with mental health difficulties in crisis.
“The proposed joint triage by the ED and MH team also supports service users accessing the new unit when they require a safe environment for urgent assessment.
“The MHUAC is an ambulant assessment area which provides a calming environment for the assessment and development of treatment plans for more complex service users who are in crisis and are accessing emergency services but have no medical need.
“We are indeed glad for this collaborative initiative with LSCFT which is a very positive step towards better care for our patients.”
The MHUAC at Blackpool, is one of several mental health urgent assessment centres being created across Lancashire and South Cumbria. It complements the unit in operation at the Royal Preston Hospital and Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital, which will shortly be joined by another unit at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary. There are already colocation of mental health services providing a dedicated facility in the Furness General Hospital in South Cumbria.
It is part of a range of measures the Trust introduced to support people with mental health challenges as quickly as possible.
In addition, it has also launched a mental health crisis line which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by calling 0800 953 0110. Trained clinicians are available to answer calls from people needing immediate advice or assistance, for themselves or a friend or family member. Callers can receive a mental health assessment and referral on to appropriate services.