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Recognition that MHAUs are Providing an Excellent Response to People having a Mental Health Crisis.

Published: | Mental Health

The Mental Health Assessment Unit (MHAU) at Leverndale Hospital was visited this summer by Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care. The Minister met with staff to hear more about the success of the hospital’s MHAU.

You can watch a short video about the work of the MHAUs and the help available from services such as the Compassionate Distress Response Service (CDRS). 

MHAUs in Glasgow are based at Leverndale and Stobhill Hospitals. These were set up at the end of March 2020 as a direct response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The MHAUs reduce the numbers of people presenting to Emergency Departments with mental health issues and provide an excellent response to people having a mental health crisis. 

Gillian Reilly, Special Services Manager (Mental Health) Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) said: “When the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) or Police Scotland attend a patient’s home and need advice about the patient’s mental health issues, they can contact the MHAUs. They can discuss and agree a plan for the MHAU staff to attend the patient’s home or SAS/Police Scotland can bring the patient directly to the MHAU for a mental health assessment. This avoids the need to attend an Emergency Department.  

“The MHAUs ensure that patients in crisis are seen by the right service at the right time, without delays. It offers a quieter environment to assess the patients as opposed to a busy hospital Emergency Department. The MHAU also offers a reduction in waiting times for access to mental health assessment for professionals, such as Police Scotland, Emergency Departments and SAS referring patients into the service. For patients who present directly to the Emergency Departments, Emergency Department staff can assess and contact the MHAU who will co-ordinate transport of the patient direct to the MHAU, if safe to do so. Alternatively, MHAU staff can attend the Emergency Department to assess the patient.” 

During the first year of operation patients were referred to the MHAUs by Emergency Departments, Police Scotland, Scottish Ambulance Service, Out of Hours (OOH) GP Service, Compassionate Distress Response Service (CDRS) and NHS 24. Specialist Children’s Services provided staff to assess young people experiencing mental health crisis.

Once the MHAUs had been running for just over a year, a same-day emergency mental health assessment service was offered to GPs via a service called ‘Consultant Connect’. GPs can call via the Consultant Connect app or telephone and speak directly to a senior nurse within the MHAU. This provides the GPs with a rapid response and improves the response time for patients to access care. 

The MHAU line has answered over 1,500 calls from GPs in the last year via Consultant Connect. In July, 100% of calls from GPs were responded to first time, meaning that every single GP got straight through to a senior nurse and 100% of those patients got referred to the best service for them right away.

Kelda Gaffney, our HSCP’s Head of Adult Services, Specialist Mental Health Services & Alcohol and Drug Recovery Services said: “I’m immensely proud of the MHAUs which receive between 1300 - 1500 referrals per month from across Greater Glasgow and Clyde, highlighting the demand for such a service. They’ve continually evolved since their development, and the initial Nursing and Health Care Support staff workforce have been expanded to include Specialist Children’s Service nursing staff, an Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Social Workers and a Consultant Psychiatrist, creating a multi-disciplinary team that are responsive to need. The Alcohol and Drug Crisis Outreach Team is now co-located with an MHAU, taking account of the people who experience both mental health and alcohol/drug crisis."

An MHAU patient said: “I wanted to say a thank you to the Mental Health nurse. I met him once when my mental health deteriorated last year and I always remembered how kind he was and I could tell he was really empathic to my struggles. When I felt low again this year, I received a phone call from him for support and he remembered me. He showed genuine care and I was made to feel really valued. I hope to be a nurse like him one day.”

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