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Will NHS mental health care become more reliant on failing private companies?

On 1 October 2020, NHS England passed its budget for specialist mental health services to 10 groups of providers across England, but plans show that even after changes, there will be a considerable role for private companies – in particular for in-patient mental health services and learning disability services with some independent providers selected despite a very poor record of care at some of their sites.

The provider collaboratives will take on the budgets and the commissioning responsibility for mental health services within an area and for a designated service. NHS England will transfer its £400 million specialised mental health budget to these organisations. Seven of the ten organisations are based in London. Each organisation will be led by an NHS trust, acting as a lead provider.

Under the original plans, announced last year by NHS England, private companies could have held the lead provider contract, but following a backlash by campaigners and the exposure by BBC Panorama of the abuse at Whorlton Hall, NHS England backtracked, deciding that the lead provider must be an NHS organisation, but in some areas non NHS provision forms a major part of the available services.

Full story in The Lowdown, 12 October 2020

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