UK’s Ambulance and Mental Health Networks Outline Need for Collaboration

Of the several million emergency calls that were made in the UK between 2008 and 2009, a significant portion involved mental health difficulties. While ambulance professionals and other caregivers are often able to identify such difficulties in clients, they are not typically endowed with the training or understanding to provide meaningful services, and simply refer people experiencing mental health crises to emergency room and general practice physicians. Many workers note having observed that on the whole, those clients seeking help for mental health issues are forced to wait longer to receive treatment, and if that if they do remain within emergency room waiting areas until they’re seen, they are less satisfied with the treatment given.

In effect, this creates a “revolving door” for mental health clients who, despite earnestly requesting professional care, may not be given the attention or tools needed to aid in recovery or find a specialist who can. Such are the issues outlined in a recent report tendered by the Ambulance Service Network and the Mental Health Network, published with the NHS Confederation. The report, a joint effort contributed to by both agencies, suggests that collaboration between emergency service responders and mental health specialists, including better education about mental health concerns for ambulance personnel, may greatly improve the quality of care received by those in need. Through curtailing the consistent use of emergency services due to a lack of adequate treatment, the measure may also help the UK cut health care costs.

The frustration of being unable to secure meaningful mental health care, especially when the often-difficult impasse of reaching out for help is conquered, is an unfortunate experience to which many in the UK can relate. With this collaboration, however, such experiences may be phased out.

© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • jayden


    November 19th, 2009 at 10:18 AM

    It is really difficult and frustrating for anyone with an injured arm or leg to be waiting for a medic to help him/her. It is exactly the same with a mental health issue… just because it cannot be seen or observed easily does not mean it is not bad,right?

  • Solomon


    November 19th, 2009 at 3:21 PM

    The working of a hospital staff has to be in perfect tandem…because many a times, precious minutes can be saved in case of emergencies and even otherwise, the best possible service can be rendered to the patients as quickly as possible, rather than making them wait and in turn making them gain negative feelings.

  • Julia


    November 23rd, 2009 at 7:06 PM

    Time and again we see that it is those who need the most help who are receiving the least

  • Martha T.

    Martha T.

    November 27th, 2009 at 12:24 PM

    Surely the hospital informs the patient’s own doctor of such visits? What there should be then for regular ER visitors is more attention from their own doctor’s office to make sure unnecessary trips in ambulances don’t happen. The patients need take care of more at that level and if they were, they wouldn’t feel the need to go to the ER. The hospital should be asking questions of their doctor as to why they keep turning up and putting the onus on the local doctor to provide better patient care and supervision. ER’s need that precious time to handle real emergencies.

  • Nathaniel


    November 27th, 2009 at 12:36 PM

    When and if this is adopted I hope they plan to increase the salary of ambulance staff too. It would only be fair to compensate them in recognition of the additional training and skills they will acquire.

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