North Yorkshire firefighters are dealing with a growing number of mental health cases due to a “stretched” supply of broader health and social care services, according to the region’s fire chief.
The acknowledgement came at a public accountability meeting chaired by North Yorkshire police, fire and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan.
During the meeting, Ms Mulligan asked North Yorkshire’s chief fire officer Andrew Brodie about the impact of “stretched” health and social care in the region.
“Obviously health and adult social care is really stretched at the minute, what’s your view of the impact that that’s having both on fire and rescue services and the police services?” she said.
“Certainly in terms of referrals, we end up dealing with more people who aren’t being dealt with by the services that exist to deal with their specific issues,” he told the meeting.
“Certainly, anecdotally speaking from talking to firefighters, they’re dealing with more people with mental health concerns, and as a result they’re now asking for input and training for education I suppose to better deal with those people.”
He went on to say that even when firefighters referred cases to the appropriate agencies, services often struggled with having enough resources to help.
“When they then refer those people out to the specific agencies, there’s less resource within…those agencies to deal with that person,” the fire chief said.
“Ultimately, the danger is we find those people as the result of a fire or accident who otherwise would have been found earlier.”
The February edition of the monthly public accountability meeting, which is designed to act as an opportunity to regularly scrutinise the region’s emergency services, was focused on old people.
It comes the week after a decision by the county’s Police, Fire and Crime Panel to accept a precept increase of just under ten per cent for the upcoming financial year – a rise of £22.95 in 2019/20 for a Band D property.
It also comes after Ms Mulligan failed to win automatic re-selection from the Conservative Party ahead of next year’s election.
Lachlan Leeming , Local Democracy Reporting Service