Mental health triage cars will be launched next month to offer better support response to people in distress after successful pilots in Glasgow and Inverness.
The new initiative is a joint response which will involve a mental health practitioner, a paramedic and Police Scotland to meet a patient’s immediate needs.
When the scheme launches in April there will be three mental health cars available for the east, west and the north – with plans to roll out further across Scotland if these further trials are successful.
The Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) suggests at least one in 25 people will be experiencing mental health challenges while the number of people contacting the emergency services with concerns is also increasing.
Victoria Burnham, consultant paramedic in dementia and SAS clinical lead for mental health, said: “The launch of our mental health triage cars is an important step forward in how we care for patients under mental health distress.
“Paramedics are often the first responders to have contact with a patient having a mental health crisis and it is widely understood that admission to an emergency department is often not the best outcome for patients.
“By offering this new approach we are shifting our resources from hospitals to the community and providing the most appropriate healthcare for the individual.”
A response car similar initiative was first piloted by the London Ambulance Service in November 2018.
The SAS has also begun working with Police Scotland and NHS 24 to develop a mental health hub within the latter, which can help patients 24 hours a day.