COMMERCIAL: A consortium involving public, private and voluntary sector providers has been appointed preferred bidder for a £124m contract to deliver joined up mental health services to children, adolescents and young adults in Birmingham.

The Forward Thinking Birmingham consortium was selected by Birmingham South Central Clinical Commissioning Group, which procured the contract on behalf of the city’s CCGs to join up “disjointed and fragmented care provision”.

However a mental health trust which now stands to lose some of its services has said it could be “destabilised” by the tender outcome.

Forward Thinking Birmingham is led by Birmingham Children’s Hospital Foundation Trust and also includes Worcestershire Health and Care Trust, private firms the Priory Group and Beacon UK, and the voluntary provider The Children’s Society.

Jane Marsh

Young people with mental health problems have had to navigate a complicated system for ‘too long’, Sarah-Jane Marsh said

The contract, which is due to start in October and will last for five years with the potential to extend to seven, includes community mental health services for patients from birth to 25-years-old, and inpatient beds for 18-25 year-olds.

Birmingham Children’s Hospital currently provides the service for children up to the age of 18, but the service for people aged 18-25 is provided by Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust, which will now lose this element of the service.

In a statement Birmingham and Solihull revealed this would result in a £14.2m recurrent loss of income to the trust, which it said could “destabilise” its remaining services.

“Whilst we are not contesting the outcome of the tender we do feel that, due to the lack of consultation or impact assessment on existing adult services in advance of the new service being tendered, remaining adult services could potentially be destabilised,” the statement said.

It added: “We are therefore in discussions with our commissioners regarding this, and we will continue to work hard to ensure an outcome that is fair for all of our service users.” 

Under the consortium’s plans, a 24/7 phone number will provide patients and their families with immediate access to experts, and an integrated “one care plan” patient management system will prevent people from getting “lost in the system”.

Diane Reeves, accountable officer for Birmingham South Central CCG, said: “We’re really pleased to announce the Forward Thinking Birmingham partnership as the preferred bidder for this brand new service.

“It was clear through the tender process that patient outcomes were the priority and Forward Thinking Birmingham proposed some creative solutions in making services accessible to young people.”

Sarah-Jane Marsh, chief executive of Birmingham Children’s Hospital, said young people with mental health problems had been forced for “too long” to “navigate a complicated mental health system where many slip through the net”.

She added: “Our unique NHS, charity and independent partnership model has been designed with the needs of children, young people, young adults and families at its heart, transforming expectations of what mental health services can provide, with the intention of setting our young people on a path towards a healthier, happier and brighter future.”

The contract is a significant win for the Priory Group, which told HSJ in October about its desire to bid in partnership with NHS providers and to move into the community sector.

Tom Riall, Priory’s chief executive, said: “This innovative partnership brings together the best of the NHS, the charitable sector and the Priory Group to provide joined up, personalised mental health services close to home for vulnerable young people and their families when they need them most.”