The must read stories and biggest talking points in the NHS

You will go to the ball

Once upon a time mental health was a Cinderella service.

But these days it feels impossible to continue to call it such, with the increased media attention and high profile proponents transforming it into a national priority.

In a wide ranging interview with HSJ, national medical director Claire Murdoch said it is “mental health’s moment now”.

She said there was “power in the system” and the sector has the backing of Simon Stevens, Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt.

But it will be hard for the mental health sector – used to seeing its budgets raided to prop up the acute sector and to be completely left out of many major policy announcements and speeches – to adjust its mindset from underdog to favourite.

This has been the hardest part of transforming mental health services – making people (inside and outside the sector) believe change is coming.

The big issues are still money and workforce. The sector needs more than the 10,000 new staff promised by the PM last month. With 20,000 vacancies to fill there is no question a monumental recruitment drive is needed to make sure the sector has the staff it needs to drive forward these changes.

But there are positives. The next wave of 11 regions to be given devolved commissioning powers for tertiary mental health services has been announced, which will see another £300m of specialised commissioning mental health budgets handed to providers to run tertiary mental health services.

Ms Murdoch called the new care models a “quiet revolution”, and many in the sector believe its moment has come.

Midlands mega-merger

Three trusts in the West Midlands are set to merge to create one of the biggest mental health and community trusts in the country.

Birmingham Community Healthcare Foundation Trust has confirmed that it is set to form a single organisation with Black Country Partnership FT and Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Trust by October.

HSJ has previously reported that Birmingham Community and the Black Country Partnership intended to integrate following the appointment of Tracy Taylor as joint chief executive last June.

The trusts have now confirmed that Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Trust will also join the merger, creating a provider with an annual turnover of around £440m – making it the third biggest mental health trust in England.

Birmingham Community confirmed Ms Taylor will be chief executive of the new organisation. The trust’s current board will also be the new provider’s top team.