Mental health crisis plan access for paramedics to 'go live'

Paramedics will soon be able to access the mental health crisis plans of emergency patients while on the move, following the successful first pilot phase of the National Record Locator.

Initial tests gave ambulance staff in pilot areas the ability to see whether someone they were treating had a mental health crisis plan.

The pilot will now expand, giving paramedics the crisis plan itself, so they can make the right clinical decisions on the ground, instead of taking the patient to A&E units or referring back to other health professionals with access to the information.  The first full record retrieval takes place this month (November 2019), with an additional three mental health Trusts joining the nine already involved with the first phase.

Mike Walker, head of the Integrating Care programme at NHS Digital said: “This pilot has so far been a fabulous success, with over 85,000 mental health crisis plan pointers added to the database across the country since last December, so that ambulance staff are less in the dark about the people they’re on their way to help. Now we’ve proven the technology works, it’s time to open it up to new areas of specialism, and new settings – putting the clinical information itself into the hands of those that need it."

Stuart Crichton, Chief Clinical Information officer at London Ambulance Service, said: “Our drive to get the user experience right is being brought to life by the NHS Digital team. Our clinicians don’t have to worry about usernames and passwords to access patient information; the security is all taken care of in the background.”

The next phase will also see digital child health records shared by child health organisations and health visiting services, as care is transferred from one service to another. Next year, pointers will be added for digital maternity services in successful pilot areas, flagging where expectant mothers are receiving care elsewhere.  Mental health nurses will be able to access records when working in the community with the police.

The Trusts involved in phase one were the South London and Maudsley, Lancashire Care, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership, Cumbria Partnership and Humber NHS Foundation Trusts with the North East, North West, Yorkshire, and London Ambulance Services. These will be joined by Somerset Partnership, Mersey Care, and Nottinghamshire Healthcare.

The first phase of the National Record Locator saw ‘pointers’ added to a system for authorised staff such as clinicians, dispatchers, and ambulance staff, alerting them to the presence of a mental health crisis plan, with contact details of the crisis team responsible. Pointers are created by the organisations that own the medical records.  The information can then be retrieved by authorised staff in other organisations, either via their own clinical or care systems, or through the re-designed, ‘mobile-friendly’, Summary Care Record application.