Plans to hand over millions of pounds worth of specialised commissioning for mental health, learning disabilities and autism to other organisations, including those in the private sector, have been outlined by NHS England.

According to HSJ, plans were outlined in a letter sent to chief executives of both NHS and independent sector providers.

The care model has been piloted since 2016 in 14 areas. It will now be rolled out across England, with a target of 75% by 2020 and all England coverage by 2022.

The new model involves the appointment of a lead provider who will be responsible for the budget and commissioning of services for a designated area.

It is part of the national project to “integrate” services, but the prominence of private providers in this sector raises the possibility of a commercial provider being given the lead provider role.

The lead provider will assume responsibility for commissioning functions, such as workforce planning and quality assurance, and thus control of a specialised commissioning budget of tens of millions.

The 2016 programme covered specialised commissioning of child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), adult secure care, and adult eating disorder services in 14 pilot areas.

The new plan will now also include learning disabilities and autism.

The new model of care in mental health is part of NHS England’s push for integrated care and the development of integrated care systems and partnerships across England.

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