The government is to review the much-delayed drive to introduce payment by results to mental healthcare.

The development of a tariff to pay for mental health care in a way that links to activity has been ongoing since 2005, and implementation is due to begin next year.

But HSJ has learned an independent review into the project will be begin shortly. It is expected to be funded by the DH in partnership with the strategic health authorities.

Director of the Mental Health Network at the NHS Confederation Steve Shrubb said: “The amount of investment the DH had made in developing mental health PbR has been much less than for the acute tariff. There haven’t been hundreds of thousands of pounds pumped into the grass roots.”

The No health without Mental Health strategy, published in February, made a commitment to parity between mental health and physical health. Mr Shrubb said: “If they are going to do that they have got to put in a tariff or put in some safeguards so that mental health is not discriminated against [by commissioners].”

He said it was positive that a review would now “identify how ready the system is to move forward”.

Trusts are expected to have divided the patients they treat into clusters, which will be attached to a tariff, by December. Although a guidance document on establishing local prices is due in the summer, providers have told HSJ the timescale would be challenging.

Leicestershire Partnership Trust director of finance Sue Hitchenor said: “I haven’t seen any guidance recently. [Moving to PbR] has been delayed over a number of years. We are starting to progress anyway in terms of clustering, but in the absence of national deadlines we are going at our own pace.”