AN ACTION plan has been agreed to tackle the rise in demand for mental health services.

Health chiefs have said that there has been a significant increase in demand for mental health services over the last nine months in Lancashire.

The surge in demand has seen NHS, local government and other organisations partner together to take action in addressing the situation.

It has seen the group, known as Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria, come together to draft a mental health improvement plan.

Among the agreed priority areas of the plan include reviewing crisis and home treatment teams to increase capacity on a 24/7 basis and reviewing the acute therapy service and exploring the potential to move to a seven day service.

Among other ideas include:

- Enhancing Mental Health Decision Units to enable them to support patients

with higher levels of acuity.

- Working collaboratively with Lancashire Police and North West Ambulance Service to

review frequent attenders which has already started to have an impact in some areas

of Lancashire.

- Understanding the demand for substance misuse services.

- Recruiting to Mental Health Liaison Teams to provide a core 24 service in acute


- Working with GP in localities to fully implement the new primary care model for mental


- Reviewing the current pathway for people with a diagnosis of personality disorder to

improve the offer and experience to this cohort of patients.

The group, which includes Lancashire Care Foundation Trust, the county's main provider of mental health services, says it has been working collaboratively over several years to introduce a range of enhanced community services for patients.

These include an acute therapy service, three mental health decision units, a Section 136 suite for young people in crisis, three crisis houses and two mental health assessment wards.

A report seen by East Lancashire Hospitals Trust board members reads: "Despite these additional services, the increase in demand includes a substantial increase in the number of acutely mentally unwell patients attending the accident and emergency and urgent care centres across Lancashire.

"This has also impacted on wider services for example Lancashire Police and North West Ambulance Service.

"Whilst there are significant pressures in our emergency departments there are also a cohort of patients waiting for admission for extended periods of time in the community.

"These patients may have greater needs and by very the nature of being at home be more vulnerable and at higher risk.

The report adds: "Partnership working by all organisations across the region, and beyond has identified that increasing the capacity within community based teams is the best way to meet people’s needs in the right place, at the right time, and reduce the demand on mental health inpatient units, emergency departments and colleagues across the system. "