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Improving care for people in a mental health crisis

04 April 2016

West London Mental Health Trust is improving care for people experiencing a mental health crisis, with the launch of a new single point of access (SPA) 24 hour telephone number. This aims to provide emergency mental health care with the same urgency that people expect from the NHS in a physical health emergency.


The single point of access phone number (0800 328 4444) launches on Monday 4 April 2016, and will provide the right out-of-hours care for people in crisis 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. When someone feels unsafe, at risk or unable to cope without professional advice, trained mental health advisors and clinicians will work with people to enable them to manage their difficulties without having to access other services.

In an emergency, the SPA aims to respond within four hours, and within 24 hours in urgent cases, any time of day or night – these are the same response times for acute NHS services. The SPA will also ensure that all referrals from GPs, carers and other statutory and third sector referrals are processed and responded to in a timely way, following a robust clinical triage process.

The SPA is a significant part of the trust’s aim to reduce hospital admissions, so that more people can recover at home or close to home instead. A single phone number improves access and will mean that people will get a response from the service more quickly, so they can recover at home with friends and family nearby. Further support through GPs and in the community is also being developed, so professionals can step in earlier before things get to a crisis point. For people who do need more intensive support, we have opened our first recovery house, Amadeus House in Ealing, to provide community-based care in a safe, therapeutic setting as an alternative to hospital admission.

Sonya Clinch, service manager for access and urgent care at WLMHT, said: “The new single point of access is great news for our mental health services. It’s easy to use, and provides the right help for people when they need it most.”

Dr Beverley McDonald, chair of the North West London mental health and wellbeing transformation board, said: “This is a really positive step towards improving access to mental health services in Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham and Hounslow. Ensuring that everyone from carers and patients to GPs, ambulance crews and the police have easy access to help and support during a mental health crisis is essential.”