Mental Health Vanguard update: April 2016

Thursday 21 April 2016.

The Mental Health Vanguard project aims to improve the way urgent mental health care is delivered locally. The project will make it easier for people to access 24/7 mental health crisis support and treatment.


Phase 1 launches in Cambridge

New services to help those experiencing a mental health crisis have launched in Cambridge.

The initiatives are aimed at improving the support available for people out-of-hours and at weekends. Patients will also get more choice in where and how they receive support.

Without access to a round-the-clock mental health crisis service, people often have to attend their local A&E department. This is not always the best place for people requiring mental health support — and puts more strain on A&E teams.

Now commissioners, NHS organisations, police and representatives from the voluntary sector have put in place a range of new services.

They include:

First Response Service — run by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) it will provide assessments in the community out-of-hours and respond to urgent referrals from emergency services.

The Sanctuary — a safe place in the community, hosted by mental health charity Mind, offering short-term practical and emotional support between 6pm and 1am.

Mental health professionals in the police control room to provide advice and referral options to police.

A system-wide co-ordinator to triage people to the First Response Service and Sanctuary and co-ordinate calls from emergency services.

The pilot is part of the Urgent and Emergency Care Vanguard programme, which is funded nationally to test out new ways of providing emergency care to improve patient experience and reduce the pressures on A&E. The funding is non-recurrent but if the pilot is successful it could lead to the new services being commissioned longer term and across the county. The services began operating in Cambridge on Monday, 4 April.

Dr Caroline Meiser-Stedman, Consultant at CPFT, said: “We are really excited to launch these new services.

“We want to make life much easier for people with mental health challenges locally to ensure their care is the best we can possibly provide. We also want them to have more choice in where and how they receive support.

“In putting in place these new initiatives we have spoken to many patients and heard their experiences of out-of-hours care.

“Accident and emergency departments or police cells are often not the right places for people to be if they are undergoing a mental health crisis.

“We believe this is the first step in changing that, and giving people the support they really need.

“If this is successful, and we believe it will be, we will be leading the way in improving the care of those with mental ill health.”

Lynn Mars, Director of Services for Mind in Cambridgeshire, added: “This exciting, innovative service will change the face of crisis care across Cambridge, ensuring that individuals receive the right care, at the right time, in the right place.”

The next phase will be dependent on funding and the recruitment of staff.

For more information on these services and how they link to existing services please read the Q&A here

Vanguard Vacancies

There are new roles are available as part of the Vanguard programme, including Band7 team leaders and Band6 first responders. For more information please visit