Urgent mental health centre opens at Blackpool Vic as part of £25m upgrade

A new urgent care unit for people in desperate need of mental healthcare has opened at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Tuesday, 11th May 2021, 3:45 pm
Blackpool Vic staff outside the new mental health emergency assessment centre at A&E
Blackpool Vic staff outside the new mental health emergency assessment centre at A&E

The Mental Health Urgent Assessment Centre, which opened this 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 has three assessment rooms for patients and carers, and is staffed by mental health nurses, consultant psychiatrists, support workers, and trainee nursing associates.

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Caroline Donovan, chief executive of Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We really want to make sure that people who are in crisis with their mental health are able to get the help they need immediately.

“We have been working closely with colleagues at Blackpool Victoria Hospital to develop an improved environment for service users and provide a safe space for them to access support.”

The enhanced service forms part of the Emergency Village and Critical Care development plan, a £25m improvement scheme to enhance and expand emergency and critical care services.

The first phase of the vast project was completed in January to a cost of £13m. It included a bigger A&E waiting room and a 'minors' area for treating emergency cases that are not life-threatening.

Natalie Hudson, director of operations at the hospital Trust, said: “We are delighted to be able to work in partnership with Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust to support this facility for the residents of the Fylde coast.

“The new unit will be instrumental in enabling the Trust to give the best care to people attending with a mental health crisis. Our emergency department is extremely busy and is not the best environment for someone experiencing mental health crisis. The new unit will provide a much improved experience for patients and aid a faster recovery from their crisis situation.”

Deputy chief medical officer Mark Worthington said: “This is such an important step towards offering improved mental health services and emergency care to the Fylde Coast. The opening of the MHUAC will enable us to not only offer an improved environment for those service users in need, it will allow us to work in close partnership with the emergency department in quickly assessing and supporting our service users."

The MHUAC at the Vic is one of several mental health urgent assessment centres being created across Lancashire and South Cumbria. Units are already in operation at the Royal Preston Hospital and Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital, and one at Royal Lancaster Infirmary is expected to open in due course.

A mental health crisis line has also been set up, and can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, on 0800 953 0110.

Dr Adeline Israel, of the Blackpool Victoria Hospital emergency department, said: “This new mental health model being developed to provide an alternative pathway for patients accessing emergency departments is a milestone in transforming emergency mental health care.

“It is acknowledged that emergency departments are busy, high stimulus environments and are not the ideal place for patients suffering with mental health difficulties in crisis.

“The proposed joint triage by the emergency department and mental health team also supports patients accessing the new unit when they require a safe environment for urgent assessment."