Rosie Cooper MP has called for NHS mental health Trusts to stop using the Police as a mental health support service.
The West Lancashire MP has raised this matter with the Secretary of State for Health after local NHS Trusts like Lancashire & South Cumbria Care and Greater Manchester Mental Health have told her to refer mental health crises to the local Police rather than intervene themselves.
Rosie Cooper MP said:
“It cannot be right that the already stretched Police force are being made to do the job of the NHS! We shouldn’t be pulling bobbies away from the beat and asking them do welfare checks on patients suffering a mental health crisis.
“My office recently received a call from a resident that said they were suicidal. When we contacted the person’s mental health team within Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust, we were told to call the Police instead! Crises like this need to be dealt with by the trained healthcare teams responsible for the patient rather than expecting the Police to intervene.
“I am told in the past 3 years, Lancashire Constabulary have spent on average 30.7 hours per day deploying to ‘Concern for Welfare’ calls from other agencies like Mental health providers. The Police force should not be expected to do NHS work when they should be catching crooks!
“In 2021, Lancashire police received over 234 requests for assistance with patients on Mental Health wards, forcing them to spend hours in hospitals rather than out in the community. I understand that Health Services are stretched themselves, but this is not an excuse to place the responsibility of mental health care crises onto the Police.
“We need a proper solution where NHS Mental Health Services actually react to the crisis, not depend on the Police to do their job for them!
We know that there are some specialist units where the NHS and Police have a dedicated team to respond together. There is one in the Manchester health area – yet it wasn’t deployed in this case – my staff were told to ring 999 – that’s not good enough!”