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Extra help for children in crisis as vital service expands

​Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) is set to launch a new out-of-hours crisis service designed to give children and young people across Norfolk and Waveney better access to specialist mental health support during evenings and weekends.

Beginning on 1 April, the service will see crisis teams made up of mental health practitioners, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, assistant practitioners, with support from an on call psychiatrist to carry out out-of-hours assessments when patients with mental health issues arrive at their local A&E.

Its aim is to provide children and young people who are facing a mental health crisis outside of normal working hours with the right help and support, in turn preventing an admission to a mental health inpatient unit. The new service will operate between 8am and midnight, and expands on the existing service which provides care during the working day between 9am and 5pm.

Following a successful trial in Great Yarmouth, the service will also run at weekends and bank holidays between 9am and 1pm. Outside of these times, young people will be offered support by mental health workers from NSFT’s adult teams.

The expanded service has been made possible after NHS England awarded Norfolk and Waveney an additional £1.9m each year to further develop services for children and young people. NSFT has worked with Norfolk County Council and the area’s five clinical commissioning groups to plan how the money will be spent to benefit the greatest number of people.

Andy Goff, CAMHS Locality Manager with NSFT said: “We are delighted that this money has allowed us to expand our children and young person’s service to provide out-of-hours crisis support across Norfolk and Waveney.

“Research shows us that the vast majority of A&E admissions for this group take place before midnight. Our team will aim to complete a face-to-face assessment at the hospital within four hours and provide intensive support so that the young person can continue receiving care within the community.

“They will also draw up care plans, refer onto partners and support timely discharge. Where necessary, they will continue to support the young person for up to six weeks and can refer on to one of NSFT’s other specialist teams, such as eating disorders or Children, Families and Young People’s Services, if longer term treatment is needed.

“We have listened to our young people and worked with our partners to develop the service so that it will respond to people’s needs and make sure they get the help and support they need to prevent an admission into an inpatient unit.

“We will also be rolling out a training programme to first responders, colleagues working in general hospitals and others who respond in a crisis to make sure they have the necessary skills to provide the right support when these vulnerable people need it the most.”

An additional six nurses and six support workers have been recruited to help deliver the service, which is just one of a range of improvements which have been developed as a result of the NHS England funding.

Over the next few months, other new and innovative services will be available to children and young people, including a single point of contact which will help them get help more quickly.