Norfolk County Council is to retake control of adult social care mental health services from the NHS because of a lack of improvement.
The council’s cabinet yesterday decided to pull the plug on the £4.1m-a-year contract with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, which has been providing the service since 2008.
The move was prompted by a lack of “significant and satisfactory improvement” in the service during the past nine months and will see the local authority take direct control of the service from 30 September this year.
It follows concerns about the quality of social care support for people with mental health needs in Norfolk, which local campaigners have claimed is in an “acute crisis” due to a £20m cost-cutting drive by the NHS trust.
The change will see around 100 employees, three-quarters of who are social workers, moved back into local authority employment.
Councillor Sue Whitaker, Norfolk’s cabinet member for adult social services, said: “We need to revise and strengthen the way we provide social care for people with mental health needs and we feel the best way to achieve this is to manage the service directly.
“Both the council and Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust are committed to making this transition happen as smoothly as possible, for staff and particularly people who use the service.
“Working collaboratively with the trust will absolutely remain a priority as it’s vital that people with mental health needs get a coordinated service.”
The council plans to adopt a revised model for the service, which supports around 1,600 18- to 65-year-olds every year.
According to the council the new model will have a greater focus on personalisation, recovery and meeting the council’s legal obligations, including delivering the service within budget.
There will also be a partnership agreement between the council and NHS trust to allow co-location of health and social workers “to ensure integration of delivery at the front line”.
Whitaker added that Norfolk was not the only local authority to have brought social care mental health services back under council control, a move that a June 2012 BASW survey found had been carried out or was being considered by two-fifths of authorities.
Andrew Hopkins, acting chief executive at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The council and the trust have been working to review the current arrangements and whilst there are positive things about the current arrangements, both parties recognise that the service has not been working as well as we would want.”
“We believe that the changes will lead to an improvement in the way that social care is delivered and ensure service users receive their personal budgets more quickly than under the current arrangements.”