• Trust has temporarily taken over autism services in Staffordshire, after CCGs refused to grant contract extension to current provider
  • Independent sector provider Midlands Psychology told patients it was cancelling appointments due to the CCGs’ decision
  • Action sparked dispute with CCGs which argued provider was contractually responsible to offer services until 30 September

A mental health trust is to take over a contract for children’s autism services following a dispute between a private provider and local commissioners.

Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust will provide children’s autism services for South East Staffordshire and Seisdon Peninsular, East Staffordshire and Cannock Chase clinical commissioning groups on an interim basis. 

The service is currently provided by independent sector provider Midlands Psychology. As reported earlier this month, it had cancelled patients’ appointments as it prepared to hand over its contract, which finishes on 30 September.

An external review which was carried out last year but is yet to be published, criticised both Midlands Psychology and Midlands Partnership FT, which provides children and adolescent mental health services in the area.

The CCGs said they decided to retender the services last year as the contract was nearing its end. However, the reprocurement is due to run until January so a new provider is not expected to be in place until early next year. 

In a statement, Midlands Psychology’s chief executive Angela Southall said the provider was only notified of the CCGs’ decision not to extend the contract on 30 August. She argued the reprocurement process should have been started earlier to ensure a longer handover period. 

When news of the appointment cancellations first broke, the commissioners said Midlands Psychology was contractually responsible to deliver services until the end of the month. However, in a more recent statement, the CCGs said the provider would now finish all the autism assessments it had already started, but any new referrals would be seen by the interim provider. 

Claire Bailey, managing director of children’s and families’ care at Midlands Partnership FT, said: “The continuation of high-quality care and support for children and young people and families who receive autism services is our main priority. We are now working closely with the CCG and will work closely with the current provider to ensure that an effective transition is carried out.”

 

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