A long-delayed innovative collaboration between public and private providers for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in Kent, Surrey and Sussex has been abandoned, according to the HSJ.

The pilot, part of NHS England’s Mental Health Forward View, was meant to go live in October 2017 with Surrey and Borders Partnership Foundation Trust as its lead provider, taking control of the budget responsibility for decision making for tertiary mental health care, including adult secure care and tier four CAMHS.

Under the scheme the lead provider then partners with other organisations and would have included the largest number of private providers in the country including; Elysium Healthcare, Huntercombe Group, Priory Healthcare and Cygnet Healthcare.

With the exception of Elysium Healthcare, all these organisations have received highly critical reports from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in recent years.

An initial delay put the start date back to October 2018. According to HSJ, the staff were told at Christmas of the scrapping of the pilot, but no public announcement has been made. The pilot is not listed on the NHS England’s website.

The reason for the pilot being dropped are numerous, according to the trust. The structure, with a lead provider, is still very much way that mental health care is set to develop. (see following story)

Problems with private providers

The Priory Group has been sanctioned in recent times for the deaths of three adolescents – Amy El-Keira at Ticehurst, Sara Green in Priory Royal, Cheadle, and George Werb in the company’s hospital in Southampton. More recently in February 2019, the Priory’s hospital for children with learning disabilities in High Wycombe was closed, following a CQC report that gave the unit an overall rating of ‘inadequate’.

The hospital had only opened in April 2018 and catered for children aged 13 to 17 with learning disabilities and/or autism. In 2018, two of the company’s hospitals, its Roehampton hospital in Wandsworth and its hospital in Southgate, North London, received very critical CQC reports. Both were rated “requires improvement” overall by the CQC, following unannounced inspections.

The CQC rated the Southgate hospital as “inadequate” for safety and noted several concerns across its child and adolescent mental health services, acute adult wards and substance misuse services. In December 2018, an inspection by the CQC of Huntercombe’s hospital in Norwich found serious concerns. The CQC took immediate action to protect those using the service, including enforcement action to remove the registration for the hospital.

The Huntercombe Group then closed the service and the children and adolescents had to be found places elsewhere. The CQC issued a highly critical report in early 2019 on Cygnet Healthcare’s CAMHS’ unit at its hospital at Godden Green, in Kent, and Cygnet closed its CAMHS unit in Woking in late 2017 following a CQC inspection.

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