stephenbettThe appointment of a senior mental health nurse in the Norfolk Police control room has been hailed a success by the local police and crime commissioner (PCC) and NHS Foundation Trust.

Emergency calls to Norfolk Police in Wymondham are monitored in the control room by mental health nurse Terri Cooper-Barnes, who has 15 years’ experience and is based at Hellesdon Hospital.

Specialist mental health guidance by Cooper-Barnes and trained members of the control room enables early intervention in mental health-related incidents before crisis point is reached.

Norfolk PCC Stephen Bett (pictured) said: "Although this scheme is in its early stages, we are already seeing excellent results and this is proving to be a very successful partnership with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. By providing ‘real time’ support, we are ensuring that mental health patients are receiving the most appropriate specialist medical advice from the initial point of contact with the emergency services."

The partnership between Norfolk Police and the Trust is among the first in the UK to use the expertise of both organisations in the control room. It allows mental health services to be involved with patients, while reducing pressures on police resources. 

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Plans are now in place to expand the team over the next few months and it is hoped that a further three mental health nurses will be added to the hub.

Dr Jane Sayer, director of nursing, quality and patient safety at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, added: “This is an exciting and progressive service development between Norfolk Constabulary and our Trust that will see police officers and our mental health practitioners working in partnership to assess and support people experiencing a mental health crisis.

“This will help to ensure that vulnerable callers coming to the attention of the police receive a timely assessment of their mental health needs are directed to the appropriate services.”