• Board papers warn of potential for harm to service users
  • Financial impact could be “significant”
  • Council says it will build links with other health bodies

A council’s decision to withdraw from joint working with a mental health trust could lead to a model of delivery which is “uncoordinated and duplicative” for patients, the trust has warned.

Surrey County Council has given notice that it will end a section 75 agreement to provide integrated community mental health services with Surrey and Borders Partnership Foundation Trust.

For the last seven years, social workers and other staff employed by the council and SABP’s mental health practitioners have worked closely together, often co-located and accessing each other’s computer systems. SABP has line managed the social care workers.

From October the teams will work separately. According to SABP’s latest board papers this will lead to “significant changes to the way that people will experience services… there is the potential for risk of harm to people using services (and staff members)”.

They say patients may no longer receive a “holistic” assessment but instead get two assessments – one from social care and one from SABP.

“It is likely that the new arrangements have the potential to destabilise some teams and may lead to concerns from carers and people who use services,” the board was told.

Around 6,000 people receive care from the integrated teams, including 400 with social care needs as well as mental health issues.

SABP would not comment on the financial impact of the move when asked by HSJ, but its board paper said this could be “significant and it is expected that if this is the case the impact would need to be shared within the broader system”.

In a joint statement SABP and Surrey County Council said they would be working to ensure a smooth transfer of people with social care needs, their carers and 183 staff whose line management will return to the county council.

SABP chief operating officer Lorna Payne said: “We understand that the council will be leading the development of a new service model with collaboration from affected staff, partners, stakeholders and organisations across Surrey.

”We are determined to work with all our social care, health and care partners to make sure the change is as smooth as possible. We have a long history of working closely with adult social care and are committed to continuing to develop this partnership for the benefit of our communities.”

Surrey County Council cabinet member for adults and public health Sinead Mooney said: ”We’re bringing the running of the service back in-house to help us support people with mental health and social care needs at a much earlier stage.

”As with other councils which have taken a similar approach, we’ll build stronger links with community health partners, GPs and housing to help us prevent problems escalating and reduce the need for hospital-based or residential care.

“We’re focused on making sure the transition is as smooth as possible and will continue to work closely with Surrey and Borders both during the change and over the long-term.”