A programme that will enable patients from across the south west with secure mental health needs to be cared for closer to home went ‘live’ this month.
The South West Regional Secure Network brings together eight organisations from Cornwall to Gloucestershire (excluding Dorset) to change the way that secure mental health services are commissioned and delivered.
The programme is part of a national initiative to increase local responsibility and ownership of secure care services for those people with serious mental health needs. The south west was one of just four areas nationally to become a pilot for the new approach. NHS England, which previously commissioned secure mental health services across the country, transferred the budget of around £70m to the network on 1 April 2017.
The network is being led by Devon Partnership NHS Trust and comprises five NHS providers of mental health services, one independent social enterprise (Livewell Southwest) and two private providers (Elysium Healthcare and Cygnet Health Care).
Commenting on the programme, Clinical Director Dr Jason Fee, a Consultant Psychiatrist at Langdon in Dawlish, said: “We know that we already provide some very high quality secure mental health services across our region and this gives us a very strong foundation upon which to build over the next few years.
“In particular, we want to bring consistency to the way that we do things, learning from best practice in the south west and elsewhere in the country as we move forward. We want to design a coherent model of care for the whole region that provides the support that people need, when and where they need it. We also know that there are considerable inefficiencies and unnecessary complexity in the current system. We need to address these so that we can release money that we can reinvest into better services.
“At any one time, there are about 450 people from the region that require secure mental health care – and about half of these are currently having to receive their treatment outside the area. We want to bring care closer to home for as many of these people as possible; to return them to their home area more quickly if they have had to receive care elsewhere and to develop more and better alternatives to hospital admission.”
The programme relates to low and medium secure inpatient services for adults with mental health needs only. Secure inpatient services for younger people and secure services for people with a learning disability or autistic spectrum disorders are not currently included in its work.
Claire Murdoch, NHS England National Mental Health Director said: “This is brilliant news. It will mean patients in the South West 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 such as supported housing, or other community services to ensure patients leaving secure care, have the support they need to get back to independent living."
NHS England’s New Care Model programme in mental health 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 nationally 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.