MENTAL health services will get extra funding in Bolton — to prevent deaths from suicide.

Reducing the premature deaths of patients suffering from severe and enduring mental health issues is a “high priority” for Bolton health chiefs this year.

Bosses at NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have committed an extra £450,000 in funding for mental illness treatment.

Some of the cash will be used to support The Sanctuary – a crisis centre in Trinity House which offers overnight support to people experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, depression or suicidal thoughts.

The CCG will also give funding to the Papyrus Suicide Safer Communities initiative, a campaign which provides suicide awareness training in Bolton.

The plans were unveiled as part of the CCG’s Forward View into Action operating plan which sets out its health priorities from now until next April.

Health bosses also aim to treat 100 per cent of patients referred for psychological therapy within six weeks, and more than 50 per cent of those experiencing their first episode of psychosis within two.

The funding for identifying more patients for treatments earlier will come from a savings package currently being developed by Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Focussing on mentally ill people is part of a bigger drive to reduce health inequalities, which will see the CCG also target carers and ethnic minorities.

Another key health priority for the year is to reduce heart disease and stroke – Bolton’s two biggest premature killers.

In particular, CCG statistics suggest the borough’s south Asian population is most at risk, and plans are in place to target these communities.

GPs will offer more screening for diabetes, alcohol abuse and bowel, breast and cervical cancers as these are some of the areas in which Bolton has the worst health outcomes.

By the end of the financial year, health bosses want to reduce emergency hospital admissions and A&E attendances by 2.9 per cent – the equivalent of 3,830 patients.

In total, the CCG will spend £186.6 million of its £378.5 million revenue allocation on acute care, £58 million on community health services, £53.9 million on prescriptions and £29.5 million on mental health.

Tony Lloyd, Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner, opened The Sanctuary Bolton – having previously campaigned for alternative plans to be in place for patients picked up by police officers, other than keeping them in cells.

He said: “This is good news for the people of Bolton, and will bring hope to many people with mental health issues.”

Dr Barry Silvert, clinical director for integrated commissioning at the CCG, said: “Mental health issues are more common than many people might realise, and early access to effective support can make a huge difference in times of need. Improving access to mental health services for the people of Bolton is a high priority for us at the CCG.”