Published: 24/02/2005, Volume II5, No. 5944 Page 12

Mental health chief executives have grave concerns about their commissioners' understanding of the sector, an HSJ survey has found.

Barometer, which surveys 30 mental health chief executives, shows that confidence levels on this issue averaged at 4.8 out of 10.

The only issue they had less confidence in was all mental health trusts achieving foundation status by the end of 2006-07 - the date by which it would be theoretically possible. This got a score of 2.55.

Chief executive of foundation trust hopeful Nottinghamshire Healthcare trust Jeremy Taylor said he thought chief executives were being overly pessimistic about mental health trusts becoming foundation trusts.

'We are a lot more stable than acute trusts, ' he said. But Mr Taylor said he was surprised that confidence in commissioners had not scored even lower. 'I would put confidence in them at a score of about 2.5 or three. They have not got a clue. We work with eight primary care trusts who are supposed to have a lead commissioner for mental health and it just does not work.' He said commissioners needed to be encouraged to have collective commissioning arrangements, though he recognised that this could clash with practice-based commissioning.