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Joint approach to transform secure mental health services

Southern Health is part of a network of six NHS trusts across the south of England, plus an Oxfordshire-based charity, that has won a bid to improve care for adults with severe mental health problems who need to be cared for in a secure setting.

An aerial view of Ravenswood, our medium secure unit for adults with severe mental illness

The successful application set out how the seven organisations would work together to coordinate inpatient and community-based services across Hampshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, the Isle of Wight, Dorset and Milton Keynes. The new model of care for low and medium secure adult mental health services aims to provide care closer to home and reduce the need for hospital admissions and out-of-area treatments. 

The NHS trusts making up the network, along with Southern Health, are: Oxford Health (who led the bid); Berkshire Healthcare; Central and Northwest London; Solent; and Dorset HealthCare; along with Response, a charity that provides home-based mental health care.

People needing the so-called forensic mental health services provided by this new network typically experience a range of illnesses, personality disorders, substance misuse problems and neuro-developmental disorders, and specialist care is required to manage their risk of harm to themselves and others.

Dr Lesley Stevens, medical director at Southern Health, said: “We’re delighted to be part of the team that won this bid for transforming local secure services. The new model of care is very much focused on safe and effective treatment, organised around each patient's needs, supporting their journey to recovery and reducing the risk they might pose to others. By collaborating across the region, we are better placed to provide care closer to home.”

The successful application follows NHS England’s Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, which emphasised the need for new mental health care models that promote innovations that join up inpatient and community care. It also emphasised the need to eliminate costly out-of-area treatments and the importance of providing care in the least restrictive setting, and close to home. To achieve these aims, earlier this year NHS England invited applications from mental health service providers to manage budgets for low and medium secure adult mental health services. This joint bid was one of the successful applications.