A MENTAL health support service set up to ease pressure on A&E is going to become a permanent fixture post-pandemic following its success.

In March last year teams at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) and the area’s Health and Social Care Partnerships set up new units to provide specialist care and treatment to those facing a mental health crisis.

It was hoped that by setting up the new Mental Health Assessment Units (MHAUs), pressure on emergency departments (EDs) would decrease and those needing help would be seen more quickly.

Now, the pioneering approach will continue and patients who present to EDs or through the Scottish Ambulance Service or Police Scotland, are transported to dedicated MHAUs at Stobhill and Leverndale hospitals.

Amy MacLean, the Nurse Team Lead at the unit at Leverndale, said the impact has been huge.

She said: "We set these units up very quickly, to help reduce pressure on our EDs in anticipation of what might come as a result of the pandemic.

"These are unprecedented times. People have not been seeing their families, not been getting out.

"There’s been a fear of catching covid and for some, a fear of going out.

"All of that on top of the massive shifts that people have faced, from furlough, to losing jobs or relationship breakdowns – for some that can lead to a mental health crisis and that’s where we come in."

The units are bright, welcoming and provide a safe space for those who need to be assessed.

Amy added: "If someone is medically fit, they can be seen here immediately.

"The units are nurse led and we involve patients fully in their assessment and care.



"The vast majority of patients will go home after that assessment with the right level of support, with some having appointments for the next day for our community teams to visit them at home to take forward their care."

The service currently accepts referrals from EDs, Police Scotland, Scottish Ambulance Service, NHS 24, NHS 24 Mental Health Hub and GP Out of Hours services and is unable to accept self-referrals.

However, from the beginning of May, as part of an initial pilot, GPs in South Glasgow can refer patients directly to the MHAUs.

This will be rolled out to all GPs across NHSGGC at the beginning of June.

Chief Inspector Janie Thomson-Goldie, of Partnerships and Resourcing at Police Scotland's Greater Glasgow Police division, said: “Police officers come into contact with people in distress on a regular basis.

"During the last year, the MHAUs have provided valuable guidance and professional support to keep people safe 24/7.

"The partnership work over the last year has meant the overwhelming majority of vulnerable people got the required support in a timely manner, avoiding lengthy waits in EDs.

"This also meant police officers were returned to front line duties as quickly as possible."

Gordon Quinn, Head of Service for the Scottish Ambulance Service in the West Region, said: "With social interactions being limited as a result of restrictions, it’s vital that health care providers and emergency services are able to provide additional support to those who require help related to mental health.

"This will focus on getting the best possible care pathway for patients in crisis or distress to ensure they have the right care at the right time."

Amy believes there is likely to be further mental ill-health fall-out from covid, but the team will be there, 24/7, 365 days a year to help pick up the pieces.

She added: "You’re not alone.

"Things may be difficult right now but it will get better and there is appropriate support for you which is always available."

If you require support

Over the phone

Sometimes it’s helpful just to talk to someone, especially if being alone at home is making you feel low.

The NHS 24 Mental Health Hub is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on 111.

You can call the Samaritans 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on 116 123.

The Samaritans also provide information on the effects of coronavirus on mental health.

You can phone Breathing Space for advice and support on 0800 83 85 87. The service is open:

• Monday to Thursday - 6pm to 2am

• Friday 6pm to Monday 6am