A MAJOR investment is being made in home treatment teams for East Lancashire after a spike in referrals during the pandemic.
NHS chiefs have agreed to a £2.16m funding package - including more than 40 extra posts - to address the demand.
Home treatment teams, provided by Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust (LSCFT), offer a round-the-clock, seven-day-a-week service to people in a mental health crisis.
Health bosses say the teams offer an alternative to hospital admission by providing ‘intensive community based interventions’
And if a hospital admission does occur, team members are then tasked with shortening in-patient stays by exploring ways of ensuring early discharges and support back in the community.
Two of the seven home treatment team bases are in East Lancs - at Daisyfield Mill in Blackburn and Pendle House in Nelson.
But the teams have seen a 25 per cent rise in referrals from 2020 to 2021. For East Lancs, this has seen urgent referrals, which should be seen within four hours, rise from 1,245 to 1,806, and routine referrals, to be dealt with within 24 hours, go from 1,724 to 2,640.
Under the review, benchmarked against other NHS mental health trusts, it was found the Lancashire teams had less staff per 100,000 people - the LSCFT rate was 14 and the national average around 20.
Seventeen recommendations, ranging from standardising psychology input to improving clinical leadership and providing social work and pharmacy support, have been agreed by trust leaders.
The increased staffing, including an extra 24 mental heath professionals, 10 registered nursing associates, three health and care support workers, two psychology specialists, four advanced clinical practitioners and pharmacy and management support, will be phased in over the next two years.
Maria Nelligan, the trust’s chief nurse and quality officer, said: “Overall LSCFT home treatment teams have seen a 25 per cent increase in referrals between 2020 and 2021 and this has been sustained into 2022.
“This is as a result of significant increase in routine referrals (148 per cent) while there was a slight reduction in urgent referrals (three per cent).”