Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust has launched the service which can be accessed through a Freephone number 0800 013 0708 – so that everyone will be able to easily access urgent or general mental health support at any time of day or night, seven days a week.
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The new approach is managed within a call centre setting, based at the Avondale Unit, Royal Preston Hospital.
Who provides the help?
The team is made up of a team of call handlers and mental health practitioners who take calls and manage referrals from patients, service users, families, carer’s and professionals, aiming to ensure callers are connected to the right professional in a timely manner.
How does it work?
The team might arrange for a caller to receive support over the phone or for a mental health practitioner to see them at home, at a GP practice or another mutually agreed place to allow further information about current mental health needs. Information about other services that could assist will also be shared, if appropriate.
Why do it?
It is hoped that the new approach will help improve access to mental health services – particularly during evenings and weekends – across Central and West Lancashire where there are over 140,000 residents.
Caroline Donovan, chief executive of the Trust said: “This is a major improvement for the residents of Central and West Lancashire who need to access help and support from our mental health services.
"This new Freephone number means people will be able to access practical advice and emotional support from qualified nursing staff and where appropriate, access to the right services in a more timely way.”
The Trust has worked with GPs, MPs, representatives from the voluntary sector, as well as others across the health system to develop this approach to make sure it meets the needs of patients and service users.
Caroline added: “This approach will mean we are better able to meet the varied needs of anyone trying to access mental health support. Whether it be an immediate response, routine appointment booking or even advice on how to access additional information, people will be able to call one phone number and receive the response they need.”