1st April 2017 marked the launch of an innovative, clinically-led partnership to transform secure mental health services across the South of England, delivering care focused on individual patient need, minimising hospital admissions, reducing the number of people being placed in hospital a long way from home and families, and enabling more people to be successfully discharged to the community.
The Thames Valley and Wessex Forensic Network, led by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, involves seven NHS Trusts and the charity Response, and it will take responsibility for managing care budgets for secure mental health services. It aims to improve services for adults with mental health problems who need care in a secure setting and/or specialist forensic mental health services.
People needing such services may be experiencing a range of mental health conditions and have other complex needs which require specialist care to support their recovery whilst managing their risks and continuing to maintain public safety.
Oxford Health’s Chief Executive, Stuart Bell said: “We are thrilled to be working as a network to focus on providing consistent, safe and effective care to our patients, and to develop the secure care pathways across the region.
“Besides being able to deliver a new model of care for our patients, which is led by clinicians in secure services, we will also have the exciting opportunity to take responsibility from NHS England for managing the budgets for secure services. We anticipate that these ground-breaking transformations in forensic services will enable us to deliver an innovative range of services that represents good value, person-centred care for patients and their families.”
“Collaboration between care providers across the region means that we are better placed to provide care closer to home, minimise transitions between services, and make such transitions as smooth as possible.”
“This will enable us to provide better care to patients and their families whilst also reducing inefficiencies associated with out of area placements. By strengthening and developing existing care pathways, we will deliver services that represent best value and safely support patients to achieve the outcomes that will sustain their recovery.”
All eight organisations will work together to coordinate hospital-based and community services across Buckinghamshire (including Milton Keynes), Oxfordshire, East and West Berkshire, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, and Dorset.
The organisations making up the network are:
• Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
• Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust
• Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust
• Response Organisation, an Oxfordshire-based charity that provides supported housing and home-based mental health care
• Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
• Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust
• Isle of Wight NHS Trust
• Solent NHS Trust
Claire Murdoch, National Mental Health Director at NHS England said: “This is brilliant news. It will mean patients in Thames Valley and Wessex who require secure mental healthcare will now be able to receive better care closer to home. Importantly it also means their families and friends will no longer have to travel long distances to see them.
“For the NHS this brings welcome savings which will be spent on better local NHS services and supported housing.”
The collaboration is part of NHS England’s Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, which emphasised the need for new models of care for mental health that promote innovations to produce integrated, efficient pathways of in-patient and community care that represent best value. This Forward View also emphasises the importance of providing care for patients in the least restrictive setting and close to their homes and families.
NHS England’s view
To achieve these aims, last year NHS England invited applications from mental health service providers to manage a number of budgets, including for low and medium secure adult mental health services. From April 2017, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust will become one of six mental health trusts to take responsibility for commissioning budgets, helping to reduce the number of adults and children placed out of area.
According to NHS England, the new care model programme will give mental health trusts the incentives and responsibility to greatly improve local services and end the practice of sending people long distances to receive treatment, unless this is clinically necessary.
Taken together, the six sites will take responsibility for a commissioning budget of around £362m and, by reducing admissions and lengths of stay, are predicting savings of £50m within two years. These savings will be reinvested in better local services including crisis teams; triage teams; supported housing; and beds. This will result in a net reduction of approximately 280 patients (across all sites) being sent out of area for their treatment.