Mental health providers to set up their own “trade body”

Voluntary sector mental health providers are to set up their own
“trade body” to push for a wider role in the delivery
of services, Community Care has learned,
writes Simeon Brody.

The Mental Health Providers Forum is expected to launch in the
autumn with a primary brief to remove barriers preventing NHS
services being commissioned from the voluntary sector.

Set up as an informal group of 13 large providers including
Mind, Rethink and Turning Point two years ago, the group now wants
to open itself up to a wider membership and it will begin to
recruit staff and take on limited company status over the

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

“Its main focus is to improve the interface with NHS
purchasers and raise the issue of whether provision always needs to
be provided from within the NHS. The goal of the group is clearly
to expand the role of the voluntary sector in providing health
services,” said Mind chief executive Richard Brook.

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

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

Rethink chief executive Cliff Prior said he would not want the
forum to simply help the sector bid for existing services but
tackle how it might play a part within a changing service model,
involving more non-hospital crisis settings and early intervention

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


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