By Myles Cook
Reporting from Thurrock Council Health and Well Being Committee
Catherine Wilson, Service Manager Commissioning, unveiled the second draft of the South Essex Mental Health Strategy which has finally been completed after extensive dialogue with stakeholders. Ms Wilson stated that the strategy was now a clearer and more concise document that focuses on the steps for a redesign of the current mental health service provision across South Essex.
The strategy introduces a five step approach to mental health intervention with more support being given to GPs and practice nurses to deliver initial services to people experiencing a range of mental health problems in primary care. A ‘gateway’ organisation will be added into the mental health care pathway, staffed by psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses and social workers, to allow for better crisis response and act as a form of triage. This new ‘gateway’ will offer assessment at a single point of access and will filter out the less urgent cases that would otherwise have been referred to more cost-heavy service provision that may not be required.
The intention of the strategy is to improve the current provision that has been described as “not as good as it should be” in Thurrock. The strategy is also intended to be more cost efficient as the current provision is too focused on in-patient care than on care in the community and on crises and severe mental ill-health with little focus on prevention.
Cllr Healy, member of the Health & Well-Being Overview & Scrutiny Committee, was told that the ‘gateway’ organisation would provide information, support and signposting to alternative help for those who were rejected by the system when he quizzed Ms Wilson on that point.
The strategy document is due to go back out to consultation with stakeholders shortly.