The number of mental health patients in Brighton and Hove being held in police cells has dropped after a concerted drive by health chiefs and Sussex Police.
Only six have been detained in police cells under section 136 of the Mental Health Act in the current financial year.
This compares with 38 section 136 detentions in the previous year (2014-15).
A report to the Brighton and Hove Health and Wellbeing Board yesterday (Tuesday 15 December) said: “During 2014-15 Sussex had one of the highest rates nationally of patients detained under section 136 of the Mental Health Act in custody.
“In September no patients in Brighton were detained in custody and figures generally are at an all-time low.”
The report said that this was “a direct result of a greater partnership working” between the police and the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
The report said: “Having been refurbished, the Mill View Hospital place of safety is now able to support patients who are intoxicated and have a higher risk profile.
“The Mental Health Rapid Response Service (MHRRS) has developed a much improved relationship with the police.
“The police now regularly call the service for advice about managing individuals who are experiencing a mental health crisis and the team has also been able to accompany the police to incidents.
“Over the last three months the police have called the MHRRS on average 25 times a month.”
The number of patients taken to Mill View in Hangleton – where they can be properly assessed and treated – has risen to 56 so far this year. The 2014-15 figure was 32.
Caroline Penn, who speaks on mental health issues for Labour on Brighton and Hove City Council, praised those involved for making such good progress.
Councillor Penn said: “It’s not often we get a good news story relating to mental health but figures showing a huge drop in section 136 detentions in police custody are very welcome.
“The Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat was started in February 2014, with the aim to improve outcomes for adults and children experiencing mental health crisis.
“The concordat ensures that each local area takes a multi-agency approach. Public health, NHS England, Sussex Partnership, the CCG (clinical commissioning group), Brighton and Hove City Council, police and ambulance services are now working together to improve outcomes.
“As a result of this joint working, a Mental Health Rapid Response Service has been set up, taking over 600 calls a month.
“A mental health liaison team has also been introduced at A&E (Accident and Emergency) and also at the Royal Alex Children’s Hospital.
“(The) MHRRS also now works very closely with the police, giving them support when dealing with someone experiencing a mental health crisis.
“The next steps are to ensure the ambulance service transport more people to a place of safety, work to reduce the number of people experiencing crisis and therefore reduce need for section 136 and increased psychiatry support for the liaison team based in A&E.
“In 2014-15 Sussex had one of the highest rates of patients detained under section 136 of the Mental Health Act in police custody.
“It’s a huge testament to everyone involved in the concordat and this partnership approach that detentions in police custody are now at an all-time low.”
To read the report to the Health and Wellbeing Board, click here and go to Item 48.
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