FINANCE: Suffolk Mental Health Partnership may be “heading to arbitration” over the terms of its talking therapies programme as it has not yet signed its contract for the 2011-12 year.

The trust’s main commissioner is NHS Suffolk. Mental health trust chief executive Aiden Thomas’s report to the trust’s June board meeting said: “At the time of writing the Trust has not yet signed the contract for 2011/12. The Trust may be heading to arbitration on the issue of IAPT [improving access to psychological therapies] target figures and penalties.”

A performance report said: “The majority of the contract is agreed, with the main exception being the IAPT services. Discussions are ongoing with NHS Suffolk regarding the activity levels required in the IAPT contract. The present level required by the PCT of 80,000 contacts is not achievable. Alternative proposals have
been put to the PCT and the Trust is awaiting their response.”

The trust’s merger with Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Foundation Trust has been delayed at the request of Monitor. Mr Thomas said the merger will not ahead until the end of September.