Major scheme to ensure health and social crises get the right response launched in Bedfordshire

Police say they are not always the right people to call in health-related incidents
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A major new scheme to ensure health and social care incidents get the appropriate response has launched this week in Bedfordshire.

Right Care Right Person (RCRP) will ensure vulnerable people receive the specialist health support they need where police officers are not always best placed to provide.

While some health incidents require police attendance, there are a number where there is no safety risk or crime committed, with other agencies such as mental health services or social care better placed to offer support.

The scheme is to ensure the right people are sent out to help.The scheme is to ensure the right people are sent out to help.
The scheme is to ensure the right people are sent out to help.

In Bedfordshire, over 12 months from July 2022 to June 2023, police officers attended 14,738 reports of concern for welfare and 5,666 reports relating to mental health.

Chief Superintendent Jaki Whittred said: “Our officers respond to many different incidents, but this does not mean we are always the right people, particularly when it comes to certain health related matters.“There are circumstances where our partners in health or social care are the most appropriate professionals to offer help and support to vulnerable people.

“Our police officers currently spend a significant amount of time dealing with health incidents, which inevitably has on an impact on our resources and our ability to respond to crime issues that really matter to people.

“We have a duty to prevent and investigate crime and to keep people safe. RCRP will help us to balance those duties more effectively.

“However, we want to be clear that we are not stepping away from health-related incidents and will always attend where there is a threat to life or serious harm to both an individual, or others around them.

“We have been working alongside our partners in health and social care so they can make the necessary changes to their service provision and ensure vulnerable people are given the best possible care by the appropriate agency.”

NHS Trust spokesperson Dr Elena Baker-Glenn said: “We have been working closely with Bedfordshire Police and other system partners across Bedfordshire and Luton in support of the implementation of Right Care Right Person.

“It is essential that people across Bedfordshire and Luton are able to access the correct support from suitably trained professionals when they need it. We will continue to work collaboratively with our colleagues in Bedfordshire Police.”

A spokesperson from the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST), said: “We are working with the police, and health and care partners to provide the most appropriate care for people in mental health crisis.

“Alongside our partners we provide dedicated mental health response vehicles to the whole of the East of England. We have plans to add 12 new mental health vehicles to our fleet this year. These new vehicles will allow us to help more people in mental health crisis.

“We also have a team of mental healthcare professionals at EEAST and have plans to expand this specialist workforce ensuring our staff can support people experiencing mental ill health.”

Visit the Bedfordshire Police website for more details.

Anyone who find themselves in mental health crisis in Bedfordshire and Luton, can call 111, and then select the mental health option, or call Samaritans on 116 123 for support.

MIND crisis cafes also run from 5pm to 11pm throughout the region.