Mrs V Tovey, Senior Commissioning Manager, and Ms J Mookherjee, Consultant in Public Health, were in attendance for this item.
1. Mrs Tovey and Ms Mookherjee introduced the report and responded to comments and questions from the committee. Mrs Tovey explained that although the service was part funded by Public Health, the contract was managed by Adults Commissioning, including the following:-
a) there was a range of ways in which an individual could access the service; via a helpline or GP referral or by walking in to one of the locations in the delivery network listed in Appendix A to the report. Anyone whose mental state made it difficult to search for service delivery points online or to walk into a service and seek help on their own could seek the help of their GP, who should be familiar with the most appropriate services to support them. It was important to note that this was not a crisis service. It was important, therefore, that GPs had full and up-to-date information about the named link person for each service and how to access the service and that signposting in surgeries was as clear as possible. Once someone had made initial contact with the Live Well service, they would be supported and helped to move forward with the most appropriate support, the aim being that there would be ‘no wrong door’;
b) a speaker who had accessed the Live Well service in their professional capacity as a carer said how good it was. Both the signposting and the helpline had been very helpful, with the latter allowing callers as much time as they needed to talk through their problems;
c) asked how offenders and ex-offenders living in the community would access the service, and if the service collected this information, Mrs Tovey undertook to advise the questioner outside the meeting. She explained that Live Well was an open-access service for people aged 17+ and the range of services offered would be adapted to accommodate the needs of those coming into it;
d) a request was made that the list of organisations within the delivery network be kept up-to-date as service providers changed, and Mrs Tovey explained that she would ask the contract management lead to undertake a review of the list;
e) concern was expressed that the expectations of the network should be realistic and deliverable, within the funding available. Mrs Tovey advised that the cost quoted per head was for a service user’s whole ‘journey’, from referral to exit, not an amount paid to one of the delivery network. She explained that someone would access a number of interventions and the service needed to treat the causes of mental ill health rather than just the symptoms. She undertook to share more detailed and commercially-sensitive information about charges with Members outside the meeting;
f) concern was expressed about the effectiveness of group sessions as a way of addressing mental health problems, and, in particular, debt issues. There was also no mention of those with gambling addiction. Mrs Tovey advised that Live Well was a general service for anyone experiencing mental ill health, regardless of the cause, and hence no data was collected by the service about the number of people coming into it due to gambling addiction or any other specific cause. Mrs Mookherjee advised that there were a number of national helplines. She undertook to look into national data for gambling addiction and advise the questioner outside the meeting;
g) concern was expressed about the ability of a non-NHS service provider to protect client data sufficiently. Mrs Tovey reassured the committee that staff in provider organisations would have been fully trained in the safe handling of client data and part of the strategic partner role was to ensure that the delivery network also adhered to the relevant standards, so the public could trust it as part of the familiar NHS ‘brand’;
h) reference was made to the ongoing need to address and reduce the stigma which still surrounded mental health issues, particularly in certain professions, such as teaching. Ms Mookherjee advised that this was being addressed by the ‘Time to Change’ campaign. The aim was always to achieve parity of esteem between physical and mental health;
i) the case studies included in the report helped to address stigma, and Mrs Tovey advised that there were many more case studies available to read on the Live Well Kent website;
j) a suggestion was made that signposting to the service could be placed at as many local community locations as possible, including community centres and food banks. Mrs Tovey advised that suggestions for additional locations would be welcomed and could become part of the main delivery network;
k) concern was expressed that funding for the service must be maintained so Kent could continue to uphold its quality of provision. Mrs Tovey reassured the committee that, despite the public health grant having been reduced in recent years, Kent’s investment from all funders for the Live Well service had been maintained, demonstrating commitment to its mental health support services; and
l) the choice of partner organisations in the delivery network and the geographic spread and range of services were welcomed and commended.
2. The Cabinet Member, Mr G K Gibbens, thanked Members for their comments and said that he had always resisted budget reductions to mental health services.
3. It was RESOLVED that the commissioning and provision of a Live Well Kent mental health and wellbeing service in Kent, the contractual performance to date and work to deliver continuous improvement, be noted.