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New mental health response team to be launched in Bury St Edmunds

By Jason Noble, Local Democracy Reporter

A new mental health response team which aims to support high-risk patients in Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds is to be launched in Suffolk after funding was agreed.

Suffolk police and the county’s clinical commissioning groups are set to adopt the Serenity Integrated Mentoring scheme, which was piloted by the Isle of Wight in 2013.

It features mental health professionals and police coming together in joint teams where they intensively support high risk and frequent patients struggling to manage in crisis.

Cllr Sara Mildmay-White.
Cllr Sara Mildmay-White.

Suffolk Constabulary put in a bid for £71,000 from the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders group of council leaders and chief executives, with the Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups alongside police contributing the remaining £71,000.

Suffolk police’s temporary assistant chief constable David Cutler said: “They [Isle of Wight] has shown sustained positive outcomes from this approach.

“What we are looking for are reduced calls for services, ambulance and police, and emergency department admissions.”

The funding bid report said that combining the clinical expertise of mental health teams with the police meant “service users could start to change their key crisis decisions and consider healthier and safer responses to often highly complex emotions”.

The scheme will be a two year pilot which runs in Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds, as these are the two areas with highest demand.

Police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said: “I am fully supportive of this.

“It’s very much a problem in society, and an increasing problem.

“Unfortunately Suffolk has been very much a pariah service for too long.

“This will actively use evidence to show how we can do better in the future.”

The plan follows the announcement by the CCGs in January of a major revamp in primary mental healthcare services, which included better access to mental health provision through GP surgeries and an overhauled approach to crisis calls.

The county’s lead mental health service, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, was given a third ‘inadequate’ rating by health watchdog the Care Quality Commission late last year.

However, Sara Mildmay-White, St Edmundsbury Borough Council deputy leader, said: “It does concern me that we are picking up the tab for a failing mental health service really.”

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