• South London Partnership outlines key plans for low and medium secure adult mental health pilot
  • Plans include improving step-down, rehabilitation and community services, and integration with housing and welfare providers
  • One of six sites to be chosen to receive devolved commissioning budgets to develop new mental health care models

STRUCTURE: Trust leaders have set out how secure adult mental health services will be transformed across South London to focus on rehabilitation, community care and helping patients into housing and employment.

The South London Partnership is one of six regions to receive devolved funding to commission low and medium secure adult mental health services. The bid is a partnership between South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust, Oxleas Foundation Trust, and South London and Maudsley Foundation Trust.

South West London and St George’s chief executive David Bradley told HSJ the pilot project covered the south of the capital and had an estimated budget of £65m.

He said key plans for the pilot project included:

  • Improving step-down, rehabilitation and community forensic services, with greater integration with housing and welfare providers to move patients through the system more effectively and reduce out of area placements.
  • Developing specialist services so trusts are not duplicating provision.
  • Creating a commissioning case management directorate, which registers all the patients and tracks their progress through the pathway.
  • Creating a single point of access for south London across all three trusts for the referral, assessment and triage of patients.
  • Standardising care pathways so each trust provides the same services in the same way.

Mr Bradley said closer integration with housing providers and employers will help people move out of secure units, freeing up space to bring some of the 160 patients currently being treated outside south London back to the capital.

He added: “It isn’t just about bringing back patients who are in placements outside south London. What we are not saying is we will build more beds, we are looking to develop new services as well, particularly in terms of step-down facilities, rehabilitation and community forensic services.

David Bradley

David Bradley

David Bradley: ‘We are looking at how we can collaborate more across south London’

“The big thing that’s perhaps missing from this and perhaps from others is the lack of good step-down housing so once people are ready to leave low secure there’s appropriate housing and employment.

“We are looking to develop that with housing providers. It’s about housing options that are available to people who have got these forensic backgrounds.

“It gives us a better throughput, helps people move on, helps people with their rehabilitation.”

NHS England announced last month that six sites had been chosen to receive devolved commissioning budgets and pilot new care models for adult secure and tier four children’s and adolescent mental health services. It has allocated £1.8m for the pilot areas.

NHS England also published an implementation plan pledging nearly £4bn to mental health.

Closer collaboration between the south London specialist mental health providers is a key plank of the south east and south west London sustainability and transformation plans. The South London Partnership bid covers 12 London boroughs.

Mr Bradley said although the governance structure is still to be confirmed, the trust chief executives will meet regularly and a clinical oversight group with representatives from all the organisations will be created.

He added: “It’s a stage for clinicians to work a lot better together across organisational boundaries. We are looking at how we can collaborate more across south London.

“[The project] does give us the opportunity to design something within the parameters of the pilot which is better for patient care and gives us flexibility.”