Commissioners of mental health services in London are struggling to meet 'aggressive' performance management demands set by London regional office, HSJ sources claim.

The national service framework for mental health tasked regional offices with ensuring that health authorities put forward robust local implementation plans in March.

In April, regional offices demanded extra information relating to three early targets on access to 24-hour care, assertive outreach and extra secure beds. These have to be included in final costed versions due in September. But senior managers have accused London regional office of taking a 'much more aggressive' style in managing the plans process than their counterparts elsewhere.

John Ballat, assistant director of public health for Camden and Islington HA, said he was 'absolutely in support' of the ideals in the service framework but feared 'the fashion for performance management' was creating its own burden.

Dr Edward Peck, director of the Institute of Applied Health and Social Policy, went further: 'At the moment we could do with a bit less planning and a bit more action, ' he said.

John Wilkinson, head of mental health at East London and the City HA, said there were 'difficulties about being performance managed when there was little guidance in the first place about what the plans should look like.'

He urged the DoH to act quickly to issue a national template which is supposed to provide guidance on what plans should include, expected early this month. The DoH said 'work is in progress' on the 10-point questionnaire.

A spokesperson for London regional office said: 'I think it is important to recognise that this kind of change isn't going to happen overnight. The commitment at the ground is very clear.'