New mental health ambulance car to handle 999 calls across Cambridgeshire

Jamie Secker from CPFT with colleagues and a team from the East of England Ambulance Service

Jamie Secker from CPFT with colleagues and a team from the East of England Ambulance Service - Credit: CPFT

A mental health ambulance car is on patrol on the streets as part of a pilot project.

The move is a joint initiative involving Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust and the East of England Ambulance Service Trust.

The funding was provided by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group.

The ambulance will be crewed by a paramedic and a specialist mental health practitioner and will respond to 999 calls across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough where there is a mental health concern.

It will operate for the next three months from 3pm to 1am every day with the aim of reducing the number of people taken to accident and emergency departments and allow them to access urgent care in their own homes. 

Jamie Secker, service manager for CPFT’s First Response Service, said: “To have an ambulance dedicated to helping those in mental health crisis is a really important step forward.

“It means we can offer rapid support to those with a mental health issue in their own home.

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"Instead of a regular ambulance taking people to an acute hospital, which can often be an inappropriate place for someone in a mental health crisis, our crews can triage people at home and arrange appropriate follow up care.

Duncan Moore of the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “From patient feedback, it was clear the importance of treating patients in mental health need in the right environment which is often away from a busy emergency department.

"This initiative will also help with an ever-increasing demand being placed on the region’s ambulance Trust and the wider healthcare system.”

The CCG’s lead GP for mental health, Dr Emma Tiffin said: “It’s wonderful news that this project is being piloted, and that specialist mental health staff can work closely with a rapid response team to deliver vital support in the community.

“To get this initiative off the ground at such a hugely challenging time for the health and care service is fantastic, and will hopefully also support the wider system by providing appropriate and timely care.”

CPFT’s First Response Service provides immediate mental health support to those in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough who call the NHS 111 helpline and select option 2.