RCN congress

'EDs are no place for people in mental health crisis'

Members call on RCN to lobby for specialist places of safety to replace A&Es for people who pose risk to themselves or others. 
Janet Youd

RCN members have called on the college to lobby to ensure emergency departments (EDs) are no longer used as a designated place of safety for people experiencing a mental health crisis.

Section 136 of the Mental Health Act allows for someone believed by the police to have a mental health disorder, and who might harm themselves or others, to be detained in a public place and taken to a safe place for mental health assessment.

Unsuitable environment

A resolution by the RCN's emergency care association and its mental health forum said EDs were noisy environments that were unsuitable places to wait for mental health assessment.

The resolution said a specialist mental health facilities staffed by appropriately trained professionals were the correct place for such assessments.

Emergency care association chair Janet Youd told a congress audience on Tuesday: Mental health patients deserve to be nursed

RCN members have called on the college to lobby to ensure emergency departments (EDs) are no longer used as a designated place of safety for people experiencing a mental health crisis.

Section 136 of the Mental Health Act allows for someone believed by the police to have a mental health disorder, and who might harm themselves or others, to be detained in a public place and taken to a safe place for mental health assessment. 

Unsuitable environment

A resolution by the RCN's emergency care association and its mental health forum said EDs were noisy environments that were unsuitable places to wait for mental health assessment.

The resolution said a specialist mental health facilities staffed by appropriately trained professionals were the correct place for such assessments.

Emergency care association chair Janet Youd told a congress audience on Tuesday: ‘Mental health patients deserve to be nursed in an appropriate environment by appropriate staff.'

Not the right place

Mental health forum member Clair Carson, who seconded the resolution, said: ‘A designated place of safety should be fit for purpose. A&E is busy, noisy, and at times frightening, not the right place for people in mental health crisis.

‘If a patient has a heart or asthma attack, they would not expect to be taken to a place where they are not treated appropriately – why should it not be the same for mental health issues?’

Second-year nursing student Ellie Mulreany, who backed the resolution, said: ‘It’s not the fault of staff, it’s not the fault of patients, it’s just the way it is. Mental health services are the only services that are appropriate.’

Police liaison

A agreement between health, police, social care and government agencies – the Crisis Care Concordat – was introduced in 2014 to enable closer working between police and specialist mental health nurses to reduce the use of police cells as designated places of safety.

Some speakers warned that stopping use of EDs as places of safety could lead people with mental health problems to feel they were not welcome.

Counterproductive

RCN Devon branch member Tom Murray warned: ‘If you stop A&E being places of safety all that will happen is patients will end up in police cells.

‘This will not solve the problem, it will make it worse. I suggest the RCN instead does further work on how this issue is dealt with.’

RCN nurses in management and leadership forum member Chris Butler said he was sympathetic to the intentions of the resolution, but said 'care needs to be taken not to compound the stigma'. He said he did not want EDs to be seen as a place where people with mental health problems were not welcome.

The resolution was carried by members.

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Theresa May accused of 'contempt' for nursing with RCN congress no-show

 

 

 

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