The wellbeing lead for Dyfed Powys has questioned where the money will be coming from to ensure medical professionals will be attending mental health incidents rather than cops, as part of the recently introduced ‘Right Care, Right Person’ scheme.
Dai Gaskins says that while the initiative - a model shaped around the way emergency services respond to calls involving concerns about mental health - is ‘in theory, great news for cops’, he admits to remaining ‘cautiously optimistic’.
His comments come after the Welsh government announced earlier this month that its financial position after the UK Spring Budget in March, was up to £900 million lower in real terms than when the budget was set in 2021.
“It’s no secret that public sector funding is tight, so my question is, where is the money coming from that’s going to fund this project?” said Dai.
People in mental health crisis need a response from the right people
“Of course, in theory, this is great news for cops - and if it does all go to plan, will save officers a huge amount of time, allowing us to focus on attending crime-related incidents. But, the sceptic in me is definitely remaining cautiously optimistic.”
The introduction of ‘Right Care, Right Person’, which was confirmed in July, sets out a consistent framework and expectation across the country that police forces will work with the local NHS, to ensure people suffering mental health crisis will get a health response and not a response from the police.
Under the plans, the government is giving an extra billion pounds a year, including £150 million for facilities to replace the role police officers take on in these situations.
Additionally, by March 2024 it is expected that 24-hour mental health crisis phone lines will be in place across England and Wales, and over the next two years, funding is set to be put in place for mental health ambulances.
“Government budget in Wales is low. Surely no one can blame me for raising my concerns and questioning where that money will come from, until we see evidence that anything will ever change?” added Dai.
As it stands, police services across England and Wales are currently attending 80 per cent of reported health and social care incidents.
If the ‘Right Care, Right Person’ plan is a success, it is expected to reduce callouts by up to 30 per cent over the next two years.