Morris calls for the trial rollout of psychiatric emergency response teams in Tipp

Photo: Cllr Séamie Morris

A local councillor is calling for a trial rollout of psychiatric emergency response teams, also known as PAMs, in Tipperary.

Following its introduction in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2015, Councillor Séamie Morris believes this psychiatric ambulance concept will minimize the number of people presenting at EDs for psychiatric episodes.

The proposed idea would see the interior of an ordinary ambulance transformed into a calm and warm environment, with comfortable seating and a dedicated team to counsel the patient through their episode.

According to the Independent councilor, these therapy ambulances would free up EDs and truly assist those suffering from mental health illnesses.

“We’re looking for pathways into how to keep people away from A&E rooms. What happens if someone is feeling mentally unwell or having a psychiatric episode, they ring up the local center, and based on the information they give, they either send out an ordinary ambulance or a psychiatric ambulance.

“If it’s a psychiatric ambulance, they can deal with the patient on site. These ambulances are designed with low-level lighting where a psychiatric nurse is able to treat the patient in the ambulance rather than taking them into a bright, noisy and busy A&E, which is the worst place to have a psychiatric episode.”

Cllr Morris brought forward the proposal at a recent health forum meeting, where he says it was well received, and there was unanimous agreement that it would be a good idea to relieve EDs of overcrowding.

He also says there is no immediate protocol in place for somebody who has a psychiatric episode, and despite its urgency, people are being told they have to wait days to get doctor appointments.

Keeping people who are experiencing episodes away from triggering environments should be a priority, according to Cllr Morris.

“The HSE is trying to develop a pathway to keep elderly people out of A&Es unless they need to be there, and I think they need to add mental illness as well. For the Mid-west we could rollout these PAMs for a trial period and it would definitely help prevent the massive amount of people who are going into our A&E at the moment. Someone with a psychiatric episode may become very unwell in a busy A&E, it could be the wrong place for them.”