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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

College comments on Government response to NHS Future Forum

Embargoed until 14 June 2011

The Royal College of Psychiatrists broadly welcomes the government’s decision today to accept the core recommendations of the Future Forum report, especially around the change to Monitor's role in relation to competition, safeguards against 'cherry picking', and the widening of clinical involvement in commission consortia.

There are, however, reservations. While the Royal College of Psychiatrists very much welcomes the inclusion of non-GP clinicians in the newly-termed ‘clinical commissioning groups’, we would still like assurances that mental health will be adequately represented so that it enjoys real parity with physical health - as agreed to in the Government's own mental health strategy.

The College is keen to see that the revised duties regarding patient involvement are genuinely strengthened, and lead to the meaningful and active participation of patients and carers in commissioning decisions. The College also welcomes the new duty on clinical commissioning groups to promote integrated services for patients, both within the NHS and between health, social care and other local services.

Professor Dinesh Bhugra, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: "We welcome the extension in clinical networks of experts, and hope that mental health will be high on the list given the care pathway complexities involved; the College likewise welcomes the advent of clinical senates.

"Multi-professional involvement will be key to the success of the proposed reforms and the Royal College of Psychiatrists looks forward to working closely within the new commissioning system and the NHS Commissioning Board.

"The decision to strengthen the existing duties to secure professional advice is a good one. However, these were vague in the original Bill, and we will be keen to see that changes lead to the meaningful input of psychiatrists in commissioning guidance and decisions."

Dr Laurence Mynors-Wallis, Registrar of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: "Regarding non-GP clinician involvement in clinical commissioning groups, the College has concerns about how familiar secondary care specialists who are not locally employed will be about local mental health services. We suggest that other models could be explored in order to allow locally-employed specialist involvement in commissioning decisions.  

"The College welcomes the clarity which the Government has provided on the issue of consortia being responsible for their whole population and not just their registered patients, particularly as this is such a significant issue in mental health. We also welcome the requirement for governing bodies to meet in public and publish their minutes.

"However, we are disappointed to see the Government maintaining its support for the roll-out of the ‘Any Qualified Provider’ model, as there is a danger that it may fragment mental health pathways and result in poor service for patients.

"We are particularly glad to note the Government’s moves to prevent the cherry-picking of services and hope that the safeguards are a success. We feel, however, that achieving this in practice may prove difficult, but keenly await further detail from the Government on this area."

For further information, please contact:
Sarah Nevins
Press & Social Media Officer
Telephone: 020 3701 2543
Claire McLoughlin
Media & Communications Manager 
Telephone: 020 3701 2544
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