STRUCTURE: Norfolk County Council has ended its formal agreement with a mental health trust after losing confidence in its capacity to guarantee outcomes for social care service users.

The authority terminated the section 75 agreement with Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust on the last day of September.

Under section 75 of the 2006 NHS Act, councils and NHS bodies can pool or delegate resources relating to health or social care if it leads to service improvements.

Norfolk County Council chamber

Norfolk County Council said its direct management of mental health services would ensure a ‘much stronger focus on social care’

Using these powers, Norfolk had delegated provision of its mental health related social care services to the trust since 2008 while remaining legally accountable for a set of social care outcomes.

These outcomes were linked to duties relating to deprivation of liberty rules, responsibilities around safeguarding children and duties to assess individuals for eligibility for care, to offer personal budgets, and to identify and assess carers.

The service’s budget was £3.6m in 2014-15.

As a result of the agreement coming to an end, around 100 social care staff previously employed directly by the provider will now work for the council, albeit embedded in the FT.

Management of the service will shift from the trust back to the council.

The service will be restructured to run in five localities to reflect the areas covered by the local clinical commissioning groups. It had previously been split into three local arms.

Norfolk County Council’s director of community services Harold Bodmer said the authority and the trust were committed to delivering an integrated community mental health service.

“We had concerns that social care outcomes were not being met and we could not therefore demonstrate that county council members were meeting their statutory obligations,” he added.

Mr Bodmer said direct council management would ensure a “much stronger focus on social care”, leading to a “much better integrated service”.

Michael Scott, chief executive at Norfolk and Suffolk, said: “The decision not to continue the section 75 partnership agreement with Norfolk County Council when it ended on 30 September was the council’s.

“Both our trust and the county council remain committed to providing an integrated service with health and social care staff located in the same place.”

The council decided to terminate the agreement last January when it could no longer be assured that those outcomes were being met.