A FIRST-response service which provides round-the-clock mental health crisis support across the district is proving a massive success.

Since the pioneering scheme was launched exactly two years ago, all vulnerable patients requiring urgent help have been placed within the area.

Prior to the project's introduction, people often had to travel significant distances to receive care.

Behind the initiative is Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Centre for Mental Health in the grounds of Airedale Hospital.

Partner organisations include the Bradford and Airedale clinical commissioning groups, Bradford Council, West Yorkshire Police, Haven – a daytime adult mental health service – and Sanctuary, a nighttime project developed with mental health charity Mind.

By using a single phone number – 01274 221181 – people in crisis can get immediate help from trained staff.

The venture has reduced demand on the police, ambulance service and A&E departments and slashed the number of people detained under section 136 of the Mental Health Act – which gives police the powers to take someone to a place of safety.

And the urgent care service now includes a welcoming overnight place where vulnerable children and young people in emotional distress can stay.

Debra Gilderdale, director of operations and nursing at the care trust, said: "It is important that we are developing services together with our local communities for people requiring care and support around their mental health.

"Urgent care services such as Haven, Safer Space and Sanctuary demonstrate what can be achieved by working as a whole system to ensure positive experiences and outcomes.

"Our local A&E departments have reported a reduction in waiting times and West Yorkshire Police have reported a fifty per cent reduction in people sectioned under 136.

"Officers receive immediate 24-hour access to health professionals, allowing for informed decisions to be made on how best to support people without them being placed in custody and ensuring those in crisis get the help they need."

Nick Smith, a care trust governor who has experienced mental health issues himself, now runs a peer support group through the trust's Champions Show the Way programme.

"When they said they wanted to set up a service for people in crisis which meant they wouldn’t need to go to A&E I thought it was a brilliant idea," he said.

"Because if you were in a crisis – which I have been many, many times – that's where you went."