Place of Safety
Under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act, the police can convey people from a public place to a place of safety if they are in extreme mental distress and need to be detained for their own safety or the safety of others.
A place of safety is a secure location where mental health professionals can assess people’s needs and work out the best next steps.
It is not an admission ward, but a place in which people who are distressed can be supported and safely assessed to see whether they have a mental disorder which could require further care or treatment.
Although overnight stays in places of safety are rare, a bed will often be provided so that detainees have the opportunity to rest.
Given the short timescales associated with most people’s stay, friends and family tend not to visit a place of safety.
Wiltshire’s place of safety is located at Green Lane Hospital in Devizes.
Health Based Places of Safety (HBPoS) in Swindon and Salisbury
In September 2019, Swindon CCG and Wiltshire CCG Governing Bodies approved a permanent change to the location of the Health Based Places of Safety (HBPoS) in Swindon and Salisbury, which were temporarily closed following poor Care Quality Commission (CQC) feedback. A pilot has been running for the last 18 months to evaluate the experiences of people using a purpose built HBPoS (Bluebell Unit) at Green Lane in Devizes.
An options appraisal was developed following engagement with key stakeholders, including service users, staff and strategic partners. Excellent feedback was received in relation to the pilot service, particularly in relation to the quality of the environment and care provided. The options were scored by both a Clinical Panel and a panel representing service users. An Options Appraisal Report identified a preferred option of permanently closing the HBPoS sites at Swindon and Salisbury which was formally ratified by the Swindon Adult’s Health, Adult’s Care and Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Wiltshire Health Select Committee in November 2019.
A statement from the CCG – in response to the decision – can be seen below:
“While the CCG acknowledges the community’s strong support for retaining a place of safety in Swindon, the evidence put forward to the Governing Bodies – much of which was obtained through meaningful conversations with people who have real experience of using the service in both its current and former state – clearly shows that local people requiring future mental health support will be best served by maintaining a single facility in Devizes.
“This move will not only ensure the necessary safety requirements called for by the Care Quality Commission can be achieved, but also that people being detained will have quicker access to professional mental health support in a location that is safe, secure and conducive to their wellbeing and overall recovery.”