A major reconfiguration of mental health services could take place in south-west London after a report ordered by local clinical commissioning groups recommended the takeover of the area’s main provider, HSJ can reveal.
In one of the most striking examples to date of fledgling CCGs flexing their muscles over poor performance in provider organisations, six local groups commissioned a benchmarking report on the future of South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust.
The draft report, seen by HSJ, was written by the consultancy Mental Health Services. It recommends commissioners oppose the trust’s bid for foundation trust status and that its services are taken over by another provider due to “weak performance” and fears over poor quality and patient safety.
The report says the trust’s historic record is of “poor or very poor service user feedback, inadequate handling of serious untoward incidents, [Care Quality Commission] concerns, and unhappy local partner organisations”, although it acknowledges some improvements.
The report concludes: “On balance, we find it hard to believe that the continuation of South West London and St George’s Trust in its current form offers the best means of achieving the service improvements sought by the large majority of stakeholders.”
Both the trust and NHS South West London have said the report includes inaccuracies and old data. The primary care trust cluster said it “does not reflect the collective views” of CCGs.
However, one senior local GP described the report as “one of the most damning I have ever seen”. The GP added: “It is all in the melting pot at the moment but something is going to have to change. The question is do we give them more time? But how much is too much?”
Johnny Marshall, senior member of the umbrella group NHS Clinical Commissioners, said: “We may well see more of this sort of approach. I think we will see CCGs in this way and in others try to make sure they are tackling some of the issues that were not tackled in the previous years or decade.”
He said it was vital the public was involved in any process.
A spokesman for the £170m-turnover trust said: “We are awaiting confirmation from the CCGs about what specific concerns they have so that we can address these.”
David Bradley will join the trust as chief executive at the end of this month. CCGs are expected to agree a collective view on its future in the autumn.
An NHS South West London spokesperson said: “CCGs want to discuss mental health services with their member GP practices, and also local service users and carers, before each CCG takes a view. We know there are a wide range of differing views and this report is a small part of the total picture.”