Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Care Group managing director Cathy Riley said the service, which is already in place at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, will be expanded to meet the NHS “Core 24” standard.
She told the board of the Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust (MFPT) that adding the additional staff in November will help “decrease the significant health inequality” that people with mental health problems experience in the county.
She also said a phased expansion of children and young people’s crisis services would begin in November, with the aim of making that 24/7 “as soon as possible”.
MFPT runs mental health, physical health, learning disability and adult social care services primarily across Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.
Ms Riley said all its services within her area remained “restored and fully operational” after the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, but added that it had adapted to new ways of working such as “a greater emphasis on telephone and digital support”.
“Through service development funding for mental health liaison services in the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, the service is being expanded to meet ‘Core 24’ standards at that site,” she said.
“Core 24” is an NHS England standard level of round-the-clock psychiatric cover, with a consultant on call.
Its Five-year Forward View for Mental Health aims for this level to be in place in half of all acute hospitals by 2020-21.
“Recruited staff will start coming into post in November,” Ms Riley added.
“This will support people in accident and emergency and on the wards, and this is particularly important as the service provides mental health care for people being treated for physical conditions in the acute hospital.
“The co-occurrence of mental and physical health problems is very common, and often leads to poor health outcomes, so this is a very important step to decrease the significant health inequality of people living with mental illness in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin.”
Both the RSH and Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital are governed by the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, and both host a mental health liaison service provided by MPFT.
Ms Riley added that funding had been secured for “investment into children and young people’s crisis services this year, and recruitment has started with the service likely to expand in a phased way, starting in November”.
She said: “The plan is to move to a 24/7 service as soon as possible. This will greatly increase responsiveness of the service and make it equitable with our adult crisis services.”