Commissioners in Birmingham are appealing for consortium bids to run a new joined up mental health service for children, adolescents and young adults, potentially worth some £100m.
The appeal is made in a pre-qualification questionnaire issued this month by Birmingham South and Central Clinical Commissioning Group, soliciting bids to run a community and inpatient mental health services, serving patients from birth to the age of 25.
The service will cover the whole city, with the Birmingham South and Central CCG tendering on behalf of itself, Birmingham Cross City CCG, part of Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, and Birmingham City Council.
The contract is for an initial five years, with a possible two-year extension.
Although the PQQ papers do not place a value on the contract, the Birmingham system currently spends £22m a year on the services.
The new service will force a significant shake up of the city’s services and includes what the CCG admits are some “unhelpful” complexities in commissioning arrangements.
While child and adolescent mental health services for the city are currently provided by Birmingham Children’s Hospital Foundation Trust, it will be unable to bid independently for the contract as it only provides services for patients aged 18 and under.
Adult mental health services in the city are provided by Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust.
In a further complication, the tender is for both inpatient and outpatient services for people aged 18 to 25, but only covers community mental health services for children. Inpatient services for children are excluded as they will be reviewed separately by NHS England.
Diane Reeves, chief officer of Birmingham South and Central CCG, told HSJ “we would like to include child mental health beds, but can’t because of the way the specialised services and CCG commissioning splits, which I think is really unhelpful.”
The new contract is intended to smooth the transition from children’s to adult services.
Although existing services were not poor quality, they were “badly organised”, Ms Reeves added. “We are disappointed with the providers that they haven’t managed to collaborate with each other to close that gap.”
She said incumbent providers should be involved but was also keen that they bid alongside charities such as Barnado’s, the Children’s Society, or the NSPCC.
Birmingham Children’s Hospital is likely to bid in jointly with one or more other organisations, although but not yet revealed which ones.
Sarah-Jane Marsh, chief executive of Birmingham Children’s Hospital Foundation Trust, said her trust had invested “a huge amount” of time and resource to improve the CAMHS service, cutting waiting times, reducing costs and improving outcomes.
“We feel passionate about delivering that service – and we cross subsidise it from out physical health services.”
The winning bidder will be announced at the beginning of 2015, with the contract due to go live the following October.