Norman LambNHS London has pledged to provide a round-the-clock telephone mental health helpline and 24-hour liaison psychiatric services in Accident & Emergency Departments as part of the first-ever mental health crisis standards for the capital.

Experts from 22 organisations including Mind, the Metropolitan Police, NHS, social care, housing and local councils will now meet to discuss how best to implement the new standards, which were developed after a review of the latest research and current mental health crisis services across the capital.

As well as the new standards, agencies across London have signed a formal declaration to commit the city to the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat. Clinical director of the London Mental Health Strategic Clinical Network Matthew Patrick said the fact that such a range of organisations have signed the Concordat, "demonstrates a firm commitment to making real improvements for people in London with mental illness".

Care to expect in a crisis
The London Mental Health Crisis Commissioning Standards set out the care Londoners experiencing mental health crisis should expect to receive, which include:

• Access to a round-the-clock telephone helpline
• Dedicated areas for mental health assessments and 24-hour liaison psychiatry services in Accident & Emergency Departments
• 24-hour clinical support for police answering mental health-related calls
• 24-hour crisis resolution teams
• Providing crisis houses with psychiatric care and support
• Crisis care plans prepared in advance for all service users at risk of mental health crisis
• Mental health crisis care training for GPs, practice nurses and community staff
• Closer relationships between local authorities, health services, the police and voluntary organisations to help people access all the support they need.

Welcoming the new standards, NHS England (London) regional director, Anne Rainsberry, said:
“More than a million Londoners will experience mental ill health this year and it is vital that we get it right for them, their families and their carers.

“These standards set the ideal for the care Londoners should expect, and we look forward to working with our partners in the police, local authorities and voluntary organisations to make it a reality. This is an important step towards ending years of imbalance between mental and physical health services.”

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said: "Improving mental health crisis care is a major priority and our Crisis Care Concordat is helping make sure people in distress get the urgent, compassionate care they need.

“I’d like to congratulate London for signing their declaration and strongly urge others to follow suit. Better, more consistent and more collaborative care for people in crisis will not only help those living through their darkest hours to recover, it can also save lives. I want to make sure we cover the whole country by the end of the year so that we rapidly spread best practice.”

A survey by Mind of crisis cases across 2011-14 found that 86% of people with mental illness need more help. Partly based on these findings, the Department of Health and 22 other national bodies set up the Mental Health Crisis Concordat in February 2014.

Dr Nick Broughton of the London Mental Health Strategic Clinical Network, who led the work in adapting the Concordat for the capital, said: “Excellent crisis care exists in London, but it’s not consistent. These standards are about increasing the accessibility and consistency of services across the capital.

"If a person suffers a heart attack, they know what health care to expect, but in the case of a mental health emergency, the care is far more variable. It can involve the police and very often ends in people not receiving the care they need when they need it and in the right place."

Read a summary of the London Mental Health Crisis Commissioning Standards at: