Place of Safety Training

I’ve spent nearly six years of my life (which will be 20% of my career by the time it should end!) working towards the introduction of s136 Mental Health Act Places of Safety. I’ve been involved in getting six up and running and improving a lot more.

We realised early on, that it’s all very well making them exist and writing a protocol, but if operational staff then don’t know how to make the process work, navigate the pitfalls, etc., etc., it will have been in vain.

Section 136 of the Mental Health Act is actually quite easy to get right!  (Section 297 of the Scots MHA and Article 130 of the Northern Irish MHO is no different in this regard.)

To that end NHS West Midlands (the SHA) funded production of a training video, which is available on YouTube.  It was supported with time and staff by West Midlands Police, West Midlands Ambulance Service and the Heart of England NHS Trust (representing A&E within the pathway).

The video was primarily around how to get the point of arrest to point of assessment.  So it deliberately stops once a person is in either:

  • A&E
  • Mental Health PoS
  • Police cells.

This was quite deliberate. It’s the ‘early identification and management of risks’ bit joint working needs to improve upon – we’ve almost always got the assessment / admission part correct.

Used as the basis for multi-agency training where professionals from each of the above organisations along with Learning Disabilities professionals and AMHPs / social workers; it got them all in the same room at the same time, to be trained together.  It also allowed them to discuss / debate / argue / agree what the problems have been.  It worked well.

I’ve delivered the training which sits around this video over fifty times across my force area.  It is publicly available on YouTube – so here it is, in case it’s useful:

This is not OSCAR winning acting and we have no shoestrings left – the police officers were brand new and mucked in fearlessly after a roadside training session on s136 (they hadn’t reached that stage of training yet!); the paramedics were staying up off a night shift, sustained by police coffee; and the A&E sister was somewhat press-ganged by her consultant with about 4 minutes notice.  Most seem to suggest, we’ve knocked together something useful and it has been used around the country as the basis to improve other PoS pathways.

I hope you agree.


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