A first for the country in mental health care

15 September 2023

Ambulance crew speaking to a female patient in the rear of a  Mental Health Response Vehicle. The staff member is holding a laptop, next to her is a piece of equipment labelled 'Corpuls'

Yorkshire Ambulance Service has introduced two new advanced paramedic roles specialising in mental health - a first for the country.

The development is part of the Trust’s Mental Health Programme, which focuses on new and innovative ways to support patients with mental health problems.

The Advanced Paramedics in Mental Health will support the many aspects of the programme, which has also seen:

  • Dedicated mental health response vehicles to support people in crisis, soon to be increased from three to six.
  • Work with the voluntary sector to ensure “safe spaces” for people who need support.
  • Specialist mental health training to frontline staff who see or speak to patients with mental health problems.

Lesley Butterworth, Lead Nurse Urgent Care, said: “We are delighted to implement this latest development in our programme to support people in mental health crisis. These exciting new advanced paramedic roles come ahead of recruitment to 15 specialist paramedic roles - a team that will help us provide the care and support people need, however they access our services.

“They will also work closely with colleagues in our emergency ambulance service, and 999 and NHS 111 call centres, providing them with clinical advice and support.”

Since May this year, around 600 frontline staff have received specialist mental health training to help them support patients in the most appropriate way. This will continue to roll out over the years ahead.

The Trust has also announced three more dedicated mental health response vehicles, which will shortly be added to the three currently in service in the region.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service receives around 140 calls a day to its 999 service relating to mental health.

Over the last year, the dedicated vehicles have responded to more than 3,000 calls to people in crisis. In 61% of those cases, the crews were able to support the patient at home or provide the care they needed with a community partner. This was instead of taking the patients to emergency departments, which are often not the most appropriate place for people in mental health crisis. This in turn helps to reduce the pressure on emergency departments and release emergency ambulance crews for other calls.

Ahead of the new vehicles arriving, the Trust has been working with mental health trusts and the voluntary sector across the region to ensure there are alternative places where patients can access the care they need, such as “safe spaces” in communities, and crisis centres. New agreements are now in place for York and Sheffield, and in Sheffield the mental health response vehicle will also be able to access the mental health crisis assessment unit directly, instead of via the city’s emergency department.

The Trust is also currently working with Bradford’s First Response mental health crisis service to create a children and young people’s treatment pathway, which would avoid attendance at an emergency department wherever possible.

Produced by: Corporate Communications Department