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


Commissioning mental health services in England

A collaboration between RCPsych, RCGP, NMHDU, and the
NHS Confederation

What is this project?

The new White Paper document, Liberating the NHS: Commissioning for Patients, signals a significant shift in the way in which many mental health services will be commissioned and held to account.

Commissioning for Patients details the Government's intentions to introduce both GP-led commissioning and a new NHS Commissioning Board.

To address the implications of this proposal, the RCPsych in collaboration with the Royal College of General Practitioners, National Mental Health Development Unit, and the NHS Confederation are working together to address the fundamental question: what do the proposed reforms for the NHS hold for the future commissioning of mental health services?


Stage one: invited seminar

In September 2010, an invited seminar was held at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.  Attended by Professor Dinesh Bhugra (RCPsych), Clare Gerada (Chair Elect, RCGP) and over 60 representatives from primary care, psychiatry, management, policy, and service user/care organisations, the seminar considered the:

  • implications: the implications of new forms of commissioning for mental health services over the short, medium, and long-term;
  • principles: the key principles and values that need to be embedded in the new system of GP commissioning for mental health;
  • relationships: how relationships between GPs, psychiatrists and other health and social care professionals should operate;
  • pathways: the central issues that need to be addressed in developing new and revised pathways and systems;
  • outcomes: it will aim to inform critical thinking and responses to the new White Paper document, Commissioning for Patients.

The seminar agenda and slides are available to download below:

A summary report of the seminar will be published shortly.  The seminar was hosted by the Primary Care in Mental Health Forum, which works to bring together the members of the RCPsych and RCGP.


Stage two: White Paper response

The relevant findings of the seminar - along with views from the membership, Faculties, Divisions, and other groupings within RCPsych - have now been incorporated into the College's response to the White Paper.  


Stage three: shared values, forthcoming guide, and 2011 conference

Through a joint working group (spanning RCPsych, RCGP, NHS Confederation, and NMHDU) the following work wil be undertaken in 2010/2011:

  • a joint paper on shared values and principles in mental health commissioning
  • a guide on commissioning mental health services (led by NMHDU)
  • a 2011 conference on mental health commissioning (further details to follow)


Further information

Please contact Chris Fitch -

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