To receive a report from the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, the Corporate Director of Social Care, Health and Wellbeing and the Interim Director of Public Health and to consider and endorse or make recommendations to the Cabinet Member on the proposed decision to provide grants for one further year, 2015/16, and then award contracts for mental health services, as detailed in the report, from 1 April 2016.
Ms S Scamell, Commissioning Manager, Mental Health, Ms J Mookherjee, Public Health Consultant, were in attendance for this item, with Ms P Southern.
1. Ms Southern presented a series of slides which set out the background to and context of the core offer, which aimed to meet needs in the community, using prevention and primary care services. The voluntary and community sector was best placed to identify and respond to community needs. The presentation included extracts from a DVD made recently by the Porchlight charity, and Ms Southern undertook to send a link to the whole DVD and to the Live it Well website to Members of the committee. Comments and questions from Members included the following points:-
a) the budget for mental health services seemed to have been reduced, and concern was expressed that service provision should not suffer. Ms Southern and Ms Scamell reassured Members that the overall level of funding had not been reduced; the organisation of funding had simply changed, leading to figures being listed differently;
b) the plan to continue grants made to the voluntary sector was welcomed, as working with this sector was vital when preparing for change, and to retain knowledge and expertise. Contracts with the voluntary sector would need to include notice that regular monitoring would be undertaken. Ms Southern added that partners in the voluntary sector were supported and prepared to enable them to enter into and compete in the contracting process so they were able to take part fully;
c) Ms Scamell clarified that ‘informal community services’ listed among the grants and contracts to be awarded referred to day services, and that projects listed as ‘others’ were those which were supported by a collaboration of adult social care, public health and clinical commissioning groups;
d) Ms Scamell explained that adult social care staff worked with the NHS to improve access to psychological therapy services and was seeking further investment on this aspect of the mental health core offer;
e) concern was expressed that some organisations listed to receive grants and contracts were unknown to elected Members. Members surely needed to be aware of the organisations with which the Council was working in their areas, and what services were available, so they were able to help and advise local people. Ms Southern advised Members that local information could be found on the Live it Well website; and
f) one of the stated aims of the core offer was to achieve ‘parity of esteem’ for those suffering from poor mental health. This sought to address the disparity which had existed historically between the perception of mental health and physical health issues, to reduce stigma and emphasise that mental health issues needed to be treated as would any other health issue. Research had shown that people experiencing serious mental health problems tended to die up to 25 years earlier than those without.
2. The Cabinet Member, Mr Gibbens, thanked Members for their comments and added that the voluntary sector was keen to work with the County Council. He said he had been pleased to visit and see the work undertaken by the Porchlight charity across the county. He undertook to look into methods of keeping Members informed of work going on in their divisions.
3. RESOLVED that:-
a) the approach to develop a primary care and wellbeing service, and the proposed commissioning timeline, be supported;
b) the decision proposed to be taken by the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, to provide grants for one further year, 2015/16, and then to award contracts for mental health services, as detailed in the report, from 1 April 2016, be endorsed, taking account of the comments made by this committee; and
c) the procurement process for the primary care and wellbeing service duly commence.