Torbay’s Safe Space is proving a great success

The Torbay Safe Space team and vehicles pictured on Torquay's harbourside on a Saturday night.

Published: 29 January 2024

A scheme which has helped more than 150 night-time revellers who were unwell avoid being taken to hospital has been hailed a success by Torbay and South Devon’s NHS.

The pilot scheme has provided medical and welfare care and assistance to the night-time economy in Torbay. One aspect of this scheme is the creation of the Safe Space that assists people who may be unwell or needing support using the busy local bars and clubs and may have otherwise attended Torbay Hospital’s emergency department (ED).

The Safe Space team is made up of one paramedic, one emergency nurse practitioner, one first responder, an ambulance and adjoining undercover area on Torquay Marina. The team work alongside security personnel and street marshals who patrol the area.

The service also helps with peoples’ general welfare needs, including handing out bottles of water, anti-spiking bottle tops, phone charging and providing a safe space for individuals to wait for their transport home.

Arun Chandran, Chief Operating Officer at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The evening and night-time economy always places additional stress on the emergency services and on our emergency department, which is why the Torbay Safe Space is such a welcomed project.

“Working with our partners, this scheme has so far ensured that those who need low-level emergency treatment can receive it and rapidly, without the need to having to attend the emergency department at Torbay Hospital.

“Not only will this help reduce pressure on our emergency department, it also reduces the pressure on ambulances in the area.”

The pilot has been operational since July 2023 on Torquay Harbourside from 10pm until 3am, predominantly on Saturday nights. During its first six months of operation (42 nights of service), the team treated 164 individuals with medical needs.

By providing care and support to those people, the Safe Space prevented 153 attendances to Torbay Hospital’s ED and 90 ambulance conveyances. There were 49 contacts for medical and welfare needs in December alone, when the service operated for seven nights across the festive period.

The success of the Safe Space pilot, commissioned and supported by NHS Devon, has meant that longer term provision has been procured for at least a further two years.

The pilot is a collaboration between Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Devon, Torbay Council, Devon and Cornwall Police, Event Paramedic, Platinum Street Marshals and security, street pastors, and local night-time economy businesses.

Arun Chandran added: “The pilot which has already shown itself to be a success, and I welcome the news that this project will continue for at least two more years. I thank our partner agencies for their support.”