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Investment in mental health services

More than a third of a million pounds is being pumped into care for people who are in mental health crisis in Norfolk.

The money is paying for 11 mental health specialists to staff “Section 136” suites. These are rooms set aside for patients who are detained by police under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983, for their own safety and wellbeing.

The £350,000 funding has been provided by the Clinical Commissioning Groups in Norwich, North, South and West Norfolk CCGs and staff are now being recruited by the Norfolk and Suffolk (mental health) NHS Foundation Trust.

There are two Section 136 suites in Norfolk - at Hellesdon Hospital in Norwich and at the Fermoy Unit in King’s Lynn.

Dr Duncan Edwards from NHS South Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Being detained by the police during a mental health crisis is a medical emergency and this new investment will allow the NHS in Norfolk to get help to these patients quickly, in a healthcare environment.”

Jenny Thurston, Modern Matron at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted that our Section 136 suite has received this extra funding, as it will allow us to further enhance the service we provide in partnership with Norfolk Police.

“We are already recruiting registered nurses, who will receive specific guidance and training to staff the Section 136 suite, so that we can continue to provide the appropriate care at the right time and in the right place.”

The investment in more staff will save having to divert other mental health specialists from their other duties. Staff aligned to the Section 136 suites will be available to work with patients on mental health acute wards when the suites are not in use.

It also means police officers should be able to hand over some patients and leave much more quickly, returning to their frontline duties much sooner.

Chief Inspector Amanda Ellis said: “Norfolk Constabulary are very pleased that the funding has been approved to ensure the Section 136 suites are staffed with appropriately trained nurses. It will have a positive impact on police resources, however it is the quality of the care received by those individuals detained which is of utmost importance to us and this will be greatly improved with the changes”

There are about 24 people in Norfolk every month that need to be assessed in one of the suites. They’re secure, comfortably furnished and are a calm location where specialist Doctors and an approved Mental Health Practitioner can properly assess the patient’s condition and ensure that they receive the most appropriate provision

Jenny McKibben, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk, says: “This is a fantastic partnership between policing and mental health.

“The new suites are part of a much wider initiative to improve support for people with mental health needs who come into contact with the police, freeing up police time and resources in the process. We continue to drive improved coordination between agencies so that vulnerable people get the help they need at the earliest opportunity.”​