Leading voluntary providers form alliance to muscle in on NHS work

Leading voluntary providers form alliance to muscle in on NHS work
Voluntary sector mental health providers are to set up their own
trade body to expand their role in delivery and to help transform
services, writes Simeon Brody.

The Mental Health Providers Forum, currently an informal group, is
expected to become a more formalised body in the autumn. It will
start to recruit staff and take on limited company status during
the summer.

Though its primary brief will be to remove the barriers preventing
NHS services being commissioned from the voluntary sector, some
believe it could help to engineer a shift in the nature of

Another of its tasks will be to tackle the perception that the
voluntary sector can only provide social care and not health

Set up two years ago by 13 large providers, including Mind, Rethink
and Turning Point, the forum also wants to open itself up to a
wider membership.

Mind chief executive Richard Brook said it would raise the issue of
whether services “always need to be provided from within the

He added: “The goal of the group is to expand the role of the
voluntary sector in providing health services.”

He argued that, apart from compulsory treatment, most mental health
services could be opened up to the voluntary sector.

Rethink chief executive Cliff Prior said the body could play a part
in transforming services in the direction of non-hospital crisis
care and early intervention.

He said: “Rethink wants a reconfiguring of services so voluntary
sector providers can bring in what they are good at.”

Prior said the voluntary sector delivered £500m worth of
mental health services a year.

He added: “A sector that size ought to have a trade body.”

Brook said the forum had completed work on developing the
accountability and quality frameworks that voluntary sector
agencies would need to deliver health services.

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