Community mental health services for people with serious mental illness in Northumberland are to receive £2million of additional funding over the next three years.
The national funding from NHS England/Improvement is to support more ‘joined up’ mental health care across a variety of organisations, including hospitals, community organisations, GP practices and charity and voluntary organisations, improving access to care closer to home.
As a result, people with serious mental illness, accessing mental health services and support across Northumberland will receive more holistic and tailored care depending on their need – just telling their story once.
Over the next three years, funding will be invested in transforming care for specific mental health conditions.
For example, this year the Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust is employing mental health practitioners to work in primary care in a joint initiative with six Primary Care Networks (groups of GP practices that work together) to ensure that mental health support and interventions are more accessible.
The community adult eating disorder service will be developed across Northumberland to respond to a range of eating disorders at a much earlier stage. This will enable opportunities for early detection and care being given at an earlier stage, improving the outcome for patients.
Patients who have complex emotional needs, and who may have suffered trauma, will receive support from staff who work closely with their GPs and other healthcare partners to provide greater emotional support.
More will be done to help prevent hospital admission, to seek alternative care and to prevent escalation of symptoms by enhancing the crisis pathways with staff who understand the social aspects of poor mental health, like fuel poverty, loneliness, and lack of employment.
Kate O’Brien, Senior Head of Commissioning, Child Health, Learning Disabilities and Mental Health, for NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This is such a welcome and needed programme of work and I am extremely proud to be involved in it. We know it is going to improve the support and care for those that need mental health care across Northumberland. And after the last year and a half, this has never been more important. People have been through a very difficult period and I’m sure many are dealing with some very tough personal challenges and circumstances.
“Working in partnership across the wide range of organisations that provide mental health care and support is absolutely crucial to improve access and for this transformation to be a success and I know all involved are committed to improving the mental wellbeing of those that live in Northumberland. The integrated working across organisations will ensure that there is ‘no wrong door’ to access services and individuals should only need to tell their story once.”
GP practices, hospital mental health services and the voluntary sector across Northumberland will also work together to encourage the uptake of physical health checks for those with serious mental illness. These health checks will be available in GP practices and other community settings.
Northumberland Recovery College, which was launched in May 2021, is also part of this transformation work. The college is open to any adult living in Northumberland who would like to improve their mental health and wellbeing. It is not a physical building, but instead provides learning experiences, mutual support, and activities in local communities to improve wellbeing. The activities are often led by people with lived experience of mental ill-health. To find out more visit the website.
Partners working together on this transformation programme include Northumberland County Council, Northumberland NHS Commissioning Group, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Primary Care Networks across Northumberland, Healthwatch Northumberland, Mental Health Matters, Mental Health Concern, Carers Northumberland, the voluntary sector and service users themselves.