‘Vital’ mental health crisis scheme extended to Rochdale and Stockport

Bosses say the aim is to make sure people quickly receive the right support.

A scheme which aims to help people experiencing a mental health crisis avoid being sectioned or admitted to A&E has been extended to Stockport and Rochdale.

Mental health professionals, police and ambulance staff in the two boroughs have joined forces to improve care for people aged over 18 who find themselves in a crisis situation.

Under the initiative a police officer and a mental health clinician from Pennine Care will jointly attend incidents, with the service operating between 5pm and 1am, seven days a week.

Bosses say the aim is to make sure people quickly receive the right support, in the right place, which is ‘vital for their recovery and ensuring a positive experience’.

Clinicians will assess patients at the scene and consider whether alternative community-based care options may be appropriate. Admission to A and E or a secure Section 136 suite (place of safety) will remain a ‘last resort for those who really need it’.

Caroline McCann, Pennine Care’s associate director for the Rochdale borough said, said: “Rochdale is the birthplace of co-operation, so it’s apt we’ve established such a valuable partnership with our police and ambulance colleagues. It’s a significant step forward in making sure the right support is available at the earliest point and in familiar surroundings, which is how we can make the most difference.

“My colleague Hayley and I covered the first shift on Monday night. It was a great experience and valuable to see things from the police’s point of view.  We were really looked after, and it was rewarding see first-hand the positive difference it can make to people’s lives.”

Where else does the scheme cover?

The pilot has been extended to Stockport and Rochdale after proving to be a success in Oldham, Tameside and Bury. Since January 450 people have been helped across the three boroughs, with only 18 being admitted to a section 136 suite.

The remaining patients received various types of support –  the most common being mental health advice and support and signposting to Pennine Care’s 24-hour helpline.

It has since been agreed to fund the pilot until the end of July 2022 and also roll it out to Rochdale and Stockport.

Work is now underway to source permanent funding for all five boroughs, while bosses are also exploring how to safely expand the service to include children and young people.

John Webster, GMP’s chief superintendent for Stockport, said he was delighted the service was being extended to the borough.

He said: “Often, people experiencing a mental health crisis don’t need a police response. This service delivers the right care by the right person in the least traumatic and most effective way.”

His comments were echoed by Chief Superintendent Nicky Porter, GMP’s district commander for Rochdale.

“Rochdale warmly welcome this initiative and we’re keen to replicate the success within our communities,” said Ch Supt Porter. “We’ll continue to meet regularly with our partners to evaluate how it’s going, so we continue to meet people’s needs.”

Dr Lesley Jones, head of mental health for North West Ambulance Service, added: “This initiative is providing vital support for people in mental health crisis. We are pleased to see it extended to more boroughs of Greater Manchester.”

  • People of any age who need mental health advice or support can phone Pennine Care’s 24/7 helpline on 0800 014 9995.