Birmingham & Black Country

Street triage team to tackle mental health emergencies

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Media captionThe scheme will ensure people with mental health issues are kept out of custody, organisers claim

A scheme has started to ensure people with mental health issues in the West Midlands are kept out of custody and receive the right treatment.

The Street Triage scheme will see mental health nurses and paramedics join police on callouts where people need immediate mental health support.

Mental health bosses say people in urgent need of mental health care during emergencies will benefit.

The pilot follows in the footsteps of similar schemes across the country.

Chief Inspector Sean Russell, of West Midlands Police, said as well as supporting people in crisis, the scheme launching on Friday will "help reduce demand on police and A&E resources".

'Range of options'

Jon Short, chief executive at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation, said: "There's been a huge fuss in recent years over how much front-line police work deals with mental health issues.

"Lots of their call-outs are to disturbances in the street or domestic issues. Police have limited powers in these issues, so the outcome is often an arrest.

"The triage will allow trained paramedics and mental health nurses to asses people more thoroughly and to make police aware of the range of options available to them, such as if the person involved needs counselling or other care."

Steve Parry, spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service, said the triage will "free up emergency services such as ambulances from attending many incidents unnecessarily".

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