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Current Chapter

Current chapter – The national priorities for urgent and emergency mental health (crisis) services


The new standards are being introduced in the context of the Long Term Plan for Mental Health, which committed £2.3bn additional ringfenced investment in mental health services by 2023/24. The majority of this funding is for community mental health services to prevent crisis and support recovery. However, there is also significant investment for the following commitments to expand capacity in urgent mental health care.

All ages

  • the NHS will provide a single point of access, ensuring that anyone experiencing mental health crisis can access 24/7 age-appropriate mental health community support via NHS 111
  • from March 2020, all areas are expected to have implemented and sustained 24/7 all-age, freephone, open access, urgent mental health lines
  • improve ambulance service capacity for mental health response, through joint response from mental health professionals in control rooms or on-scene

Adults and older adults

  • for adults and older adults, the NHS will ensure that a 24/7 community-based mental health crisis response is available across England by 2020/21, with intensive home treatment available as an alternative to an acute inpatient admission
  • there will be investment in ‘crisis alternatives’ such as crisis cafés, sanctuaries and crisis houses – many of which are NHS-commissioned but provided by Voluntary Care Sector (VCS) providers
  • the NHS will ensure that no acute hospital is without a mental health liaison service in A&E departments and inpatient wards. By 2020/21, at least 50% of these services will meet the ‘core 24’ service standard as a minimum, working towards 70% by 2023/24, and 100% coverage thereafter

Children and young people

Children and young people experiencing a mental health crisis will be able to access crisis care 24 hours a day, seven days a week by 2023/24, with a single point of access through NHS 111

a range of resources to support service development are available on the CYP Urgent and Emergency Mental Health Care – FutureNHS Collaboration Platform.


Reporting data on these services nationally

A range of relevant information, resources and data for local systems can be found via the newly established mental health, learning disability and autism resource Hub – FutureNHS Collaboration Platform.

Of particular relevance are two dashboards on acute mental health and also urgent/emergency mental health. These have been developed to support health systems to review and assure activity, identify opportunities for improvement and identify other systems that they may be able to learn from. 

The dashboards are currently shared as management information via the Acute Data Dashboard  NHS England and NHS Improvement National Adult and Older Adult Mental Health Programme – FutureNHS Collaboration Platform

To support a focus on improving data quality, NHS Digital have developed a publicly available Mental Health Services Dataset – Data Quality Dashboard. This allows users to interrogate the completeness of data submitted to the dataset, including at provider level, for all of the data items. They have also shared a recording of a demonstration of the dashboard.

In time it is expected that there will be national standards on key indicators of mental health crisis and acute care activity, with formal public reporting via NHS Digital’s monthly publications and platforms such as Public Health England’s Fingertips profiles.

Last edited: 10 January 2022 3:44 pm