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Union demands end of NHS model that denies care to mentally unwell

15 July 2021

UCU today said a model for mental health services being used by NHS Trusts across England is abusive and needs to be shutdown.

The High Intensity Network's Serenity Integrated Mentoring (SIM) is a method of delivering mental health services designed to lower calls to 999 and admissions to A&E. The scheme is targeted at people who regularly need emergency care after self-harming, attempting suicide, or threatening to do so. It is reportedly being used by 23 out of 52 NHS Trusts in England and lets authorities deny patients care, prevent them from seeing doctors and to send them home without treatment. Instead, care users are assigned a police officer who gets access to their health records and contacts them twice a week.

UCU recently resolved [see note 1] to support the #StopSIM campaign to halt the use of SIM and conduct an independent review. A petition containing these demands has now reached over 50,000 signatories. Suffolk NHS Trust has now ended its use of the controversial model.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'SIM is a disgraceful model designed to deny the most vulnerable people in our society the healthcare they need. Instead it places them in the hands of the police. The NHS was created to make sure illness is not an offence for which people are penalised, and the police have no place in caring for those who are mentally unwell. UCU thoroughly opposes SIM, we are supporting the campaign to shut it down, and are urging everyone to sign the petition.

'Unfortunately, SIM is a symptom of a Conservative government that has starved public services of funding. We need huge investment in the NHS and on the early interventions that mean people are less likely to need emergency care. Community nursing, public health, and social care have all been stripped to the bone under a succession of callous Tory governments that know the cost of everything but the value of nothing.'

Notes

(1)   NEC MOTION

Support for the #StopSIM coalition

NEC notes:

  1. the work of #StopSIM (stopsim.co.uk) in revealing the abusive practices of the 'SIM' model of healthcare in over half of England's NHS trusts
  2. over 50,000 signatories to the petition for an independent review into the implementation of SIM and similar models on misleading data
  3. calls by the Royal College of Nurses, Royal College of Psychotherapist and other professional bodies for an independent review
  4. the disproportionate effect of SIM on people in crisis who are racialised; female; LGBTQIA+
  5. potential involvement of UCU members in SIM's rollout; and potential harm caused by SIM to UCU members.

NEC resolves:

  1. to formally support #StopSIM in demanding 1) an end to SIM and SIM-like models of mental healthcare and 2) an independent review
  2. to publicly acknowledge SIM as a symptom of the abusive mental healthcare system.

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