• Data from Carter review into mental and community health services suggests £181m can be saved through trust corporate services
  • NHS Improvement director suggests trusts can make savings by scaling up corporate services
  • Lack of consistent data on mental health and community services has been a challenge for the review
  • NHSI and GIRFT to focus on reducing out of area bed placements in mental health

Findings from Lord Carter’s efficiency review into mental and community health services has identified almost £200m of potential savings through scaling up trusts’ corporate services.

NHS Improvements director of sector development, Luke Edwards, said data collected from the latest review so far indicates trusts could make £181m in savings in their corporate services.

Speaking at a King’s Fund conference this week, Mr Edwards said: “Corporate services across the [mental health and community sector] are relatively small. What [NHS Improvement] sees is a general relationship between size and costs, so the smaller you are, relatively speaking, the higher costs you have…

“We think there is scope to drive more savings in corporate services through collaboration and basically becoming a bigger entity”

In February, 23 mental health and community services trusts were chosen to be part of Lord Carter’s efficiency review in to the sector.

Mr Edwards said gathering data for the review was a “real challenge” and despite being 10 months into the review, NHSI has only been able to establish “relatively limited opportunities for improvement” that can be evidenced by benchmarking providers.

As part of the review, NHSI will be looking into trust estates, staffing and care hours, medicines and pharmacy optimisation, procurement, and the commissioning of mental health and community services.

The Carter review team will also work with the Getting It Right First Time programme on mental health services and how acute sector work can be extended into the community.

Mr Edwards said it is anticipated that NHSI and GIRFT will focus on reducing out of area bed placements in mental health trusts.

In April, Lord Carter said a “wrecking ball” approach should be taken towards small community hospitals.

Talking about the review’s findings to date, Mr Edwards said: “When you have an isolated ward in mental health or community the costs of running those services are extremely high and it is very difficult to staff.”

He also said the review has found “some trusts have been successful in consolidating their estate quite significantly as part of a wider transformation programme. [While] others continue to have a very large number of sites, which we think are probably unproductive.”