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20.07.16

Lord Carter: Community and mental health review to start in September

Work to review the operational productivity and performance of community and mental health trusts is due to start in September, NHE has learned.

Lord Carter of Coles, who recently published his report into the acute sector, and suggested that £5bn efficiency savings could be made, told NHE that the teams are being put together and “hope to be on the road in September”.

The procurement tsar, whose team has been transferred into NHS Improvement (NHSI) as a new directorate, said that the year-long review will follow a similar pattern to his work in the acute sector.

This latest stage in the work was expected, because in the foreword to his last report it was said: “I have been contacted by many mental health and community trusts expressing their wish to be involved in a similar approach.

“I believe the methodology and tools we have developed are transferable to these sectors, so I see no reason why the same approach should not be taken.”

Lord Carter said conversations have already been had with some providers, but the trusts for the review pilot have yet to be identified.

NHE was told that the review team is looking for trusts of different sizes, with varying relationships and different locations.

“It is the same process as before,” he said. “We’re interested in how the money is being spent, so we’ll follow the money. We’ll find the people who are doing it well, get them to tell you, and try to explain to other people.”

Although the combined spend of mental health and community trusts is somewhat smaller than the acute sector’s £70bn, Lord Carter said “it can’t be ignored”.

“Where we’ve got integrated providers, a good example would in fact be Sheffield, where the community is part of it, or where people have integrated,  will be to look at the service line costing and see where the benefits are,” he said.

“One of the things that seems to have come out is the differing specifications of CCGs. So, interestingly enough, you pick out a mental health service in one area and it costs significantly more than another because the specification is different.”

Lord Carter said this is some of the variation his review will look into, adding that the government hates postcode lotteries, “but the reality is that you’ve created CCGs which are pretty self-governing”.

Yesterday, the interim CEO at NHS Confederation, Stephen Dalton, said that transforming NHS mental health services requires a commitment from the government to ensuring that additional funding reaches the frontline.

But the Health Select Committee said that the NHS lacks the funding and plans to deliver the FYFV, with initiatives to tackle the unprecedented financial pressures not being on track to meet their targets.

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