Commissioner demands key town scheme to help vulnerable be retained

A row has broken out over the future of an initiative designed to improve care of vulnerable people with mental health problems.

North Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan yesterday claimed NHS funding for the street triage pilot in Scarborough, involving joint patrols between police and mental health staff, was at risk - despite indications since its launch nearly 12 months ago that 1,000 fewer people had gone to the town’s A&E unit, which faced severe pressure over the winter and was among the first in the country to declare a major incident.

Ahead of talks on Monday to discuss its future, she said further funding for the project was unclear.

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Officials from the NHS Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) say it is funded until the end of the month by the Department of Health and they have agreed to step in to offer further support until the end of June.

Ms Mulligan said she had made the Home Office aware of her concerns and written to Health Minister Norman Lamb calling for the scheme to be retained.

She said: “Street triage has been successful by anyone’s standard, and to consider pulling the funding is frankly nonsensical. Health services in North Yorkshire have a history of being behind the curve in providing the right mental healthcare, and this is another example.”

A CCG spokesman said funding was on a trial basis until the end of March and after that it was intended to be funded “in partnership between public organisations covering health, social care and the police”.

“Our CCG has agreed to solely fund an extension to the initiative until June, during which time we will be working with our partners to agree the desired outcome for the initiative and, should it continue, who is responsible for funding it,” he said. “As the local leader of the NHS we have already made significant investments in local mental health services and it remains one of our key priorities for the future.”