• Mental health and Women’s and Children’s trust agree to partner for CAMHS service across Birmingham and Solihull
  • Follows controversial redesign two years ago, and persistent concerns about service fragmentation
  • Priorities will be new model for urgent care and single patient record across trusts

Child mental health services in Birmingham and Solihull are set to be redesigned for the second time in two years, in another bid to remove unnecessary fragmentation in the system.

On Wednesday, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust will vote on a memorandum of understanding with Birmingham Women’s and Children’s FT to create a new shared child and adolescent mental health services across the region. 

Under the agreement, the trusts will agree to share the management of the service via a joint task force, with representatives of both organisations and commissioners.

The MOU has been published in Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health FT’s board papers ahead of the vote. 

It says: “[The trusts] want to join forces and bring mental health services together across the two organisations. We want to influence and encourage other services to work with us to repair the fragmentation of service delivery that has manifested over the years.”

The agreement would bring together CAMHS services in Solihull, provided by the mental health trust, and Birmingham, run by a consortium led by Birmingham Women’s and Children’s FT.

It follows a tumultuous few years for CAMHS in the region.

Two years ago the mental health trust controversially lost its young adult services in Birmingham to the new consortium, known as Forward Thinking Birmingham, which now provides mental health services for 0 to 25 year olds across the city.

At the time an independent assessment warned the changes could have “catastrophic” consequences for some service users.

A review last year revealed a severe shortage of inpatient beds across the service.

On Tuesday this week, a Care Quality Commission report found the child mental health community service, provided by the Women’s and Children’s trust was inadequate.

The paper to the mental health trust board stated that “we recognise our history of working together may lead people to question whether we can do this or not; but we have agreed we cannot afford not to… our focus is the future and not the past”.

Since November last year, the mental health trust has also been commissioned to provide 11 acute inpatient beds for young people for Forward Thinking Birmingham, a service the trust previously provided but lost to the consortium.

In a statement provided to HSJ, mental health trust chief executive John Short said priorities for the new service include creating a new single model for urgent care, improving “system demand and capacity management” and creating a single CAMHS digital record across both organisations.

The trusts would also develop a joint workforce plan and better integrate with specialist “tier four” services across the West Midlands.

However, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s chief executive Sarah-Jane Marsh said the MOU did not mean the introduction of a new care model, or changes to the consortium’s services or contracts.

She said: “It’s about breaking down barriers that may exist to a less siloed approach to the delivery of our services – very much in keeping with our vision through our Birmingham and Solihull Sustainability and Transformation Partnership.”

Over time, the partnership would also involve other mental health providers in the region, the agreement states.

The task force overseeing the partnership will be empowered to make decisions, but report to both trust boards and the region’s mental health system strategy board.

Birmingham Women’s and Children’s FT will vote on the MOU next week.