26 January 2012

Social enterprise expression of interest not supported

The Board of Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust has decided not to support an 'expression of interest'  to establish a social enterprise in Bristol by a group of clinicians under the Government's 'Right to Provide' initiative.

Having heard from and questioned the advocates of the plan at the meeting and heard from representatives of professional and staff groups in Bristol, board members concluded that:

  • They were unconvinced that service quality or choice would be increased by establishing a social enterprise for mental health services
  • There was little evidence to suggest support from staff and clinicians in Bristol for establishing a social enterprise and no evidence of engagement with AWP's professional groups in the city, some of whom felt that clinical best practice would be damaged by the splintering of the Trust.
  • Given its dependence on winning a significant element of the proposed contracts to deliver mental health services in Bristol, the social enterprise was unlikely to be economically viable
  • Exploring the proposal further would have a destabilising impact on AWP, detracting from current efforts to implement service improvements and stronger local management as well as adversely impacting on the Trust's bid to become a foundation trust.

The Board also questioned whether those proposing the social enterprise could complete the process laid down by the Department of Health in time to take part in the formal public tender process that would be followed by Bristol PCT in retendering mental health services.

Chair of the Trust Board Felicity Longshaw said:  "We have given this proposal substantial attention, considering our obligations under the 'Right to Provide'  process.  It is clear to us that at a time of change and uncertainty, there has to be a clear vision and a strong organisational strategy to respond to the challenges which face mental health so that quality is constantly being improved.  We have not been convinced that this proposal can deliver this.

"Across Bristol and the rest of the Trust, our staff are working really hard to support those with serious mental health needs, providing some excellent services.  We believe that all our energies should be concentrated on supporting our staff to provide responsive, effective services and do not think that the impact of setting up a social enterprise would help with this."

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