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New network to transform secure mental health services launches

3 April 2017

1 April 2017 marks 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 enabling more people to be successfully discharged to the community. 

outside of southfield, forensic mental health unit

‘The Thames Valley and Wessex Forensic Network’ involves seven NHS Trusts, including Southern Health, and a charity 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 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.

All eight organisations will work together to coordinate hospital-based and community services across Hampshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight. In addition to Southern Health, the organisations making up the network are: Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust (leading the initiative); Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust; Response, an Oxfordshire-based charity that provides home-based mental health care; Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust; Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust; Isle of Wight NHS Trust; and Solent NHS Trust.

Oxford Health’s Chief Executive, Stuart Bell explained: “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.”

Southern Health’s Associate Director for Specialised Mental Health Services, Nicki Brown, added: “People needing the 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. We’re delighted to be part of the team involved in now transforming our services for these individuals. 

“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 which is good news for patients and their loved ones.”

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 inpatient 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.

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 re-invested 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.