Helpline provides support

Thousands of people in mental health crisis have been able to access the urgent care they need quickly and directly thanks to a flagship £1m crisis helpline in the north east.

People with mental health issues, who might previously have attended A&E, have been able to use a single telephone number set up by Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW).

The £1m project was set up two years ago after patients told the trust that their care was good ‘once they accessed it’.

The trust introduced a single new telephone number for all calls including routine appointments, general enquiries and crisis care in the Sunderland area.

The 24 hour line is linked to a hub of specially trained call handlers supported by senior nurses.

Dr Carole Kaplan, transformation programme director at NTW, said: “We’re pleased with the feedback we’ve received and hope that by making changes like this we are improving greatly the care of those with mental health issues while at the same time freeing other parts of the NHS, such as A&E, to focus on those who most need their care.

“Patients and carers are saying that access is much better.

“They are put on the road to recovery right from the beginning and they say it works efficiently.”

Calls received are triaged allowing people who need urgent care to get the right treatment quickly, those who need community care to avoid admission where ever possible and those who need an appointment or referral to be seen quickly.