STRUCTURE: The Avon and Wiltshire Partnership Trust board has rejected a request from a group of clinicans to break away and establish a social enterprise in Bristol which could potentially become a competitor when services are put out to tender.

The board decided not to support the expression of interest, made under the Government’s right to provide initiative, after questioning advocates of the plan and hearing from represetatives of professional and staff groups.

In a statement the trust said the board had not been convinced service quality or choice would be increased, were concerned the social enterprise was unlikely to be economically viable and found little evidence to suggest widespread support from staff and clinicians in Bristol.

They also felt that “exploring the proposal further would have a destabilising impact on AWP, detracting from current efforts to implement service improvements and stronger local management as well as adversely impacting on the Trust’s bid to become a foundation trust”.

NHS Bristol has announced it is to tender for mental health services after clincians including GPs raised concerns about the quality of services provided by AWP.

In making its decision, the board also questioned whether those proposing the social enterprise could complete the process laid down by the Department of Health in time to take part in the formal public tender process that would be followed by Bristol PCT in retendering mental health services.

Chair Felicity Longshaw said:  “We have given this proposal substantial attention, considering our obligations under the ‘Right to Provide’  process.  It is clear to us that at a time of change and uncertainty, there has to be a clear vision and a strong organisational strategy to respond to the challenges which face mental health so that quality is constantly being improved.  We have not been convinced that this proposal can deliver this.”