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CCG study threatens mental health reconfiguration

A major reconfiguration of mental health services could take place in south-west London after a report ordered by local clinical commissioning groups recommended the takeover of the area’s main provider, HSJ can reveal.

In one of the most striking examples to date of fledgling CCGs flexing their muscles over poor performance in provider organisations, six local groups commissioned a benchmarking report on the future of South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust.

The draft report, seen by HSJ, was written by the consultancy Mental Health Services. It recommends commissioners oppose the trust’s bid for foundation trust status and that its services are taken over by another provider due to “weak performance” and fears over poor quality and patient safety.

The report says the trust’s historic record is of “poor or very poor service user feedback, inadequate handling of serious untoward incidents, [Care Quality Commission] concerns, and unhappy local partner organisations”, although it acknowledges some improvements.

The report concludes: “On balance, we find it hard to believe that the continuation of South West London and St George’s Trust in its current form offers the best means of achieving the service improvements sought by the large majority of stakeholders.”

Both the trust and NHS South West London have said the report includes inaccuracies and old data. The primary care trust cluster said it “does not reflect the collective views” of CCGs.

However, one senior local GP described the report as “one of the most damning I have ever seen”. The GP added: “It is all in the melting pot at the moment but something is going to have to change. The question is do we give them more time? But how much is too much?”

Johnny Marshall, senior member of the umbrella group NHS Clinical Commissioners, said: “We may well see more of this sort of approach. I think we will see CCGs in this way and in others try to make sure they are tackling some of the issues that were not tackled in the previous years or decade.”

He said it was vital the public was involved in any process.

A spokesman for the £170m-turnover trust said: “We are awaiting confirmation from the CCGs about what specific concerns they have so that we can address these.”

David Bradley will join the trust as chief executive at the end of this month. CCGs are expected to agree a collective view on its future in the autumn.

An NHS South West London spokesperson said: “CCGs want to discuss mental health services with their member GP practices, and also local service users and carers, before each CCG takes a view. We know there are a wide range of differing views and this report is a small part of the total picture.”

Readers' comments (13)

  • So a report that all parties agreed was flawed is leaked to by someone with an axe to grind and HSJ then run this bogus/inaccurate headline. I feel sorry for the Trust.

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  • I thought this Trust has till November 2013 to submit its FT application so doesn't that answer the GP's question re 'howmuch more time?

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  • Pure mischief. Is this what we can expect from CCGs?

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  • I don't read this as 'all parties' agreeing the data is old or flawed, but just those bodies which are likely to be defensive - the Trust itself (natch) and its erstwhile commissioner, which let the (apparently poor) service continue. And knowing the process of review as I do, the findings will be based on a rounded views of the available evidence. Once the Trust sees the areas for required improvement it can, if it is able, use more up to date data to demonstrate the better picture.

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  • They were dreadful when I worked there ..

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  • Mental Health Strategies produced an inaccurate report into bed use across South Staffs FT which undermined the public consultation into changes at that FT's unit in Burton. I'm not surprised this report is also viewed as inaccurate and flawed. Time to employ some better consultants or do the work internally.

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  • As an employee of the Trust, a charge of partisanship could be levied. As a professional nurse who has recommended our services to friends, family and neighbours I would happily plead guilty (without the negative connotations). Given this, I am concerned that in these challenging times some parties seek to influence due process by leaking material and to anonymously lend their professional status to support a particular view, however heartfelt. I struggle to see how the interests of the public can be well served in such a scenario.

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  • Politics over patients every time

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  • So we have an incomplete report, based on old data, containing inaccuracies that is just one part of a process. Is this really a story worthy of HSJ?

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  • So a report from MHS who messed up in Staffordshire is used to beat up SWL&SG - great.

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  • Personally, I would like GPs and CCGs to stay out of Mental Health services altogether - in my experience they have nothing to add. They just get in the way of access to services.

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  • Shame on HSJ for adding to political mischief to get a cheap headline. Embarrassing for MHS to have a poor draft report trailed in public. Embarrassing for CCGs and GPs in SW London to think one of their number deems (presumably) leaking inaccurate information to the press a good way to improve quality. I wonder what people trying to use services would think about such a carry on? The mental health sector is stigmatised, marginalised, underfunded - how do we help improve matters by lowering the tone and credibility of debate?

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  • looking at the report the analysis was based in the latest available data. It draws sensible conclusions about a trust that most in the local economy know has been a poor performer for years. Don't shot the CCGs or the messenger for stating what many know to be true !

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