Medics speak of new Mental Health Urgent Assessment Centre at Blackpool Victoria Hospital

A new urgent care centre for people visiting the accident and emergency department in need of mental healthcare has opened at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 12:30 pm

The Mental Health Urgent Assessment Centre (MHUAC), which opened last week, is located next to the A&E department where work is underway to create a multi-million pound 'Emergency Village'.

The centre aims to provide a safe and calm assessment space for patients who appear at A&E with urgent mental health needs, and have no coronavirus symptoms or physical injuries.

It is open to anyone experiencing mental health concerns over the age of 18 via the emergency department at Blackpool Vic.

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The Mental Health Liaison Team at the Vic's new Mental Health Urgent Assessment Centre. Picture: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

There are three assessment rooms with six nurses, two healthcare assistants and a team of doctors to ensure anyone presenting with mental health symptoms receives the care they need, without the distractions of beeping machines and people walking around outside cubicles.

Dr Mark Worthington, consultant liaison psychiatrist and deputy chief medical officer, said: "This is about being able to see mental health patients in a more timely way, so they're not having to sit in A&E.

"It's a much calmer environment here, particularly for those who are distressed.

"A&E didn't have a dedicated mental health assessment area, so patients were being seen in cubicles or on wards in rooms that weren't appropriate.

The MHUAC has three assessment rooms designed to provide a calmer space to conduct mental health assessments than the busy A&E department. Picture: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

"So the new centre has dedicated, safe rooms which are quiet, calm and not in as busy an environment.

"Patients coming here will have been assessed in A&E and sent over for a joint assessment, but in terms of purely needing mental health support we would always encourage someone to call the mental health crisis line as a first point of contact."

The liaison team at the MHUAC works alongside other mental health provisions on the Fylde coast, including the Light Lounge on Whitegate Drive and Sycamore House in Warbreck Hill Road.

Sycamore House is a service for any one dealing with mental health issues over the age of 16 upon referral through the Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust (LSCft) Home Treatment Team.

It was launched in collaboration with charity Richmond Fellowship, Fylde Council, the Vic and LSCft, and allows a person to stay up to seven days, offering a safe space for intervention, assessment and treatment.

Kelly Morrison, MHUAC and Fylde coast urgent pathway service manager, said: "We recognise that the emergency department isn't always the best place to attend when in a mental health crisis, so we have this beautiful new unit which is really conducive to supporting people's mental health.

"Mental health needs have changed during the pandemic, and we have seen a lot of people presenting with new mental health problems, where we saw the demand in the emergency department.

"People were reaching out for help in different ways, which is why as a Trust and locality we've really invested in what resources we have available.

"If a triage nurse identifies that someone is in need of mental health treatment only, they are now only a 30 second walk away for an assessment and signposting to the most appropriate service to suit their needs."

Anybody experiencing a mental health crisis is urged to call the Mental Health Crisis Line on 0800 953 0110, which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, or visit https://www.lscft.nhs.uk/crisis for more information.