'PACER' shows strong results in first six months

02 Dec 2020

Six months on, an innovative Police and mental health partnership on the Central Coast has seen a dramatic reduction in the number of mental health patients being transported by Police to Gosford Hospital Emergency Department.

Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor and Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast Adam Crouch visited Gosford Police Station today to see first-hand the success of the Police Ambulance and Clinical Early Response (PACER) program, which launched in June.


Mr Crouch said PACER is enabling rehabilitation and recovery in the community.


“Over the past six months, Gosford Hospital has seen a 26% reduction in mental health patients being transferred by Police. There’s also been a 6% drop in involuntary presentations compared to the same period last year,” Mr Crouch said.


“For a relatively short period of time this is an outstanding result, and I’m so pleased that Central Coast people experiencing mental health issues have had more access to alternative pathways to care.”


Mrs Taylor said six PACER clinicians have been working out of Brisbane Water Police District and Tuggerah Lakes Police District since June, helping Police to manage mental health emergencies.


“PACER’s collaborative approach means that people on the Central Coast needing urgent mental health support are already getting better, more targeted help, sooner,” Mrs Taylor said.


Commander of the Brisbane Water Police District, Superintendent Tony Joice has seen positive results through the joint Police-clinician initiative.


“The real-time availability of clinicians when people may be experiencing an episode has been invaluable. It has resulted in a significant reduction in time taken for police to respond to mental health related incidents,” Superintendent Joice said.


“Compared to last year, we’ve seen a 50% decline in police transportations to hospitals for a mental health assessment.”


Central Coast Local Health District Director of Mental Health Anthony Critchley said PACER would also provide broader social benefits.


“By ensuring people receive expert mental health care at times of crisis in an environment they are familiar with, we are sending the message that help is available and it is okay to ask for it,” Mr Critchley said.


The $6.1 million investment in PACER is part of the NSW Government’s $80 million mental health COVID-19 package. 


If you or someone you know needs help, please call the Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511. It operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and offers free professional help and advice, and referrals to local mental health services.