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

Health experts come together to launch Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health

Embargoed until 28 March 2011

Thirteen organisations have come together to launch the Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health (JCP-MH) and address serious concerns about the future commissioning of mental health services and public mental health interventions.

The new body – which includes the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of General Practitioners, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), the NHS Confederation, Rethink Mental Illness and Mind –will help provide the practical guidance that GP pathfinder consortia, local authorities, and PCTs in transition often report is lacking when commissioning for mental health and wellbeing.

Recent survey results, for example, found that 31% of GPs felt prepared to take on commissioning for mental health services compared to 75% for diabetes and asthma1.

Dr Neil Deuchar, Commissioning Lead at the Royal College of Psychiatrists and co-chair of the Panel said: "Many aspects of the forthcoming government reforms are welcome and provide fantastic opportunities if commissioners can take full advantage of them. We felt we had a responsibility to collaborate and share our collective experience and expertise from the outset. We want to give current and future commissioners the support and confidence they will need to make a positive and tangible difference."

At its launch today, the JCP-MH published Practical Mental Health Commissioning: Volume 1 Setting the Scene. The framework has been written for GP pathfinder consortia, local authorities, as well as PCTs in transition, and is intended to guide commissioners as they move through a complex and changing terrain.   It provides a clear framework for what mental health commissioning looks like now, how it will work under the reforms, and identifies the opportunities to provide care in the future.

Professor Helen Lester, Commissioning Lead for Mental Health at the Royal College of General Practitioners and co-chair of the Panel said: "Our framework is the first of three briefings that we will publish in the coming months. As a GP myself, I know that many of my colleagues have great expertise in working with patients with mental health problems.  However, commissioning services for mental health will be challenging for many.  Producing these briefings, and sharing the knowledge and experience within mental health, will be invaluable in ensuring that people have the best possible mental health outcomes."

Steve Shrubb, Director of the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network, said: "We know that for some GPs commissioning mental health services is an area where they feel least confident. By bringing together experts from all parts of mental health – specialist clinicians, social care, providers of all types, service users and GPs – the panel aims help GPs gain confidence and expertise in mental health commissioning."

Speaking on behalf of ADASS, Terry Dafter, Director of Adult Social Care for Stockport, explained that the JCP-MH was an initiative to help catalyse or strengthen local action, rather than dictate from the centre. He said: "The commissioning of mental health services, and the provision of health promotion and public health interventions, will be locally driven. The Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health supports this wholly, and aims to provide guidance which can be easily translated into local and regional action."

For further information, please contact:
Sarah Nevins
Press & Social Media Officer
Telephone: 020 3701 2543
Claire McLoughlin
Media & Communications Manager 
Telephone: 020 3701 2544
Out of hours contact number: 07860 755896



The Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health (JCP-MH) is a new collaboration between a range of leading organisations with the aim of improving effective commissioning for mental health, learning disabilities, and wellbeing. The JCP-MH is comprised of: the Royal College of General Practitioners; the Royal College of Psychiatrists; the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services; the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network; Mind; Rethink Mental Illness; National Involvement Partnership; National Survivor and User Network; Royal College of Nursing; Healthcare Finance Management Association; Interprofessional Collaborative on Mental Health; National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health; and the British Psychological Society


Note to editors:

1. Concerns have previously been reported about the emerging commissioning of mental health services. Rethink Mental Illness (a member of the JCP-MH), for example, commissioned an independent surveys of 251 GPs and found that 31% felt ‘well-equipped’ to commission mental health services, compared to 75% for diabetes and asthma.


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