New ‘place of safety’ opens up at Cross Lane Hospital

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A “place of safety” has been opened at Cross Lane Hospital for vulnerable adults detained by the police under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.

The opening of the service has been made possible through a partnership between NHS Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group, which has funded the service, North Yorkshire Police, Tees Esk and Wear Valley’s NHS Foundation Trust, who will run the service, and North Yorkshire County Council.

A Section 136 Place of Safety is somewhere a person can be detained for up to 72 hours if they are in mental health crisis and the police believe them to be in immediate need of care for the sake of their own, or another person’s, safety.

Until now the police had no option but to take these people to a custody suite, even though they may not have committed an offence. Someone can be detained for up to 72 hours in the Section 136 Place of Safety while medical assessments take place and arrangements are made for their treatment and care.

A Place of Safety has to meet strict criteria in terms of staffing, facilities and policy.

Under certain circumstances, police custody suites or A&E department can be used as a place of safety. However, a health-based place of safety linked to mental health services should be available.

Dr Peter Billingsley, lead for mental health at NHS Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Establishing a place of safety has been one of our main priorities since we became the leader of the local NHS last April.

“This is a high risk and complex area that involves a range of partners to make it work safely and effectively. The opening of this service is a great example of organisations from health, social care, police and the ambulance service working together for the benefit of patients.”

Martin Dale, locality manager Cross Lane Hospital said: “People detained under Section 136 can be extremely vulnerable, may be unwell and require health and social care including assessment by experienced professionals. The new Place of Safety provides a suitable environment to provide this much needed service.”