UCLan pair hailed Lifesavers after devising app to help make sure mental health patients don't arrive at hospital in a police car
A Preston pair who devised a checklist to prevent mentally ill people being taken to hospital by police rather than ambulance have been hailed as lifesavers.rs.
Dr Ivan McGlen and Professor Karen Wright from The School of Nursing at the University of Central Lancashire were named two of the Nation’s Lifesavers – the top 100 individuals or groups based in universities whose work is saving lives and making a life-changing difference to health and wellbeing.
The accolade came as part of Universities UK’s MadeAtUni campaign, which highlights the work being done in universities.
Principal nursing lecturer Dr McGlen worked closely with head of the school Prof Wright to develop the Public Psychiatric Emergency Assessment Tool – Revised (PPEAT-R).
The checklist is expected to become the standard framework for police officers, paramedics, non-mental healthcare professionals and prison officers to communicate their findings to specialist mental health professionals.
The duo started the project following a top level report which revealed that more than half of all mental health patients who need help in a place of safety are taken there in a police car rather than an ambulance.
Police, instead of NHS staff , take ill patients to hospital about 12,000 times a year, or in 52 per cent of cases.
It is hoped that the PPEAT-R tool will help stop this.
The extensive research took place over eight years and the PPEAT-R tool was developed h Durham Constabulary and the Metropolitan Police Service and was the first study to explore a police officer’s situation awareness when encountering a potentially mentally disordered person.
Dr McGlen said: "As a senior nurse in accident and emergency, I saw at first hand the issues encountered by police trying to assess a person’s mental health and wellbeing.
"The police would often bring people with mental and wellbeing issues into the hospital, but it wasn’t uncommon to see them being released back out into the community in a very short space of time.
"This was because the arresting officers didn’t have the skills to articulate an accurate mental health diagnosis to hospital staff.
"The police needed an easy to understand aid memoire which could help them, and other emergency services, to recognise the key signs of mental disorder."
Prof Wright added: " During our trial, there was a significant shift in police officers’ assumption of criminality, with the tool enabling officers to accurately respond to and recognise a person’s mental health and wellbeing.
"By using this cognitive aid, police officers or other emergency services can organise and structure the information they acquire during their assessments. They can then pass this information on to paramedics, medical staff, specialist mental health professional or other relevant personnel."
The tool is available as an a double-sided, credit card sized document, as well as an android smartphone app.