An Ambulance Service and Police Conveyancing Policy in the North West

“The policy has brought clarity to a very complex area of service. It has dispelled a few myths and unrealistic expectations held between agencies and placed the vulnerable person at the centre of day to day responses to mental ill health” – Greater Manchester Police

The North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) and North West Regional Police Forces, under the authority of the North West Regional Mental Health Forum, have agreed a policy which provides guidance for ambulance service personnel, medical and/or other healthcare practitioners, Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs) and police officers to ensure that patients with mental ill health are conveyed in a manner ”which is most likely to preserve their dignity and privacy consistent with managing any risk to their health and safety or to other people”, in accordance with the Mental Health Act.

The conveyance policy sets out the roles and responsibilities of each agency including the NHS trusts, the ambulance service, the police and local authorities both in and out of working hours. All parties involved in the creation of the policy use their multi-agency experience to agree effective processes and clear care pathways.

A person-centred approach is taken with the aim of ensuring that vulnerable people receive appropriate and timely care, minimising the role of the police and the use of police vehicles in the conveyance of people experiencing mental ill health. In practical terms, the policy explains that police assistance should only be sought if there is evidence of risk of either resistance (active), aggression, violence (to self or others) or escape. The policy determines that patients are conveyed to hospital in the most humane and least threatening way, consistent with ensuring that no harm comes to the patient or to others. In order to facilitate better multi-agency working, it provides relevant telephone numbers to enable faster referrals to take place, as well as specifying the response times NWAS aim to meet when requested to assist with a mental health related incident.

The policy has brought clarity to a very complex area of service. Professionals involved now ‘Think Ambulance First’. It has also enabled senior police officers to challenge requests for police involvement in conveyance when the circumstances are not appropriate and emphasised to all agencies that each has responsibilities, inside and outside of working hours, for vulnerable people.

– Adele Owen, Greater Manchester Police