A relatively small number of individuals, now in PCTs and local authorities, but currently re-forming into clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), commission services to an annual value of the order of a billion pounds across the West Midlands. Eight NHS trusts, fourteen local authorities and numerous other providers jointly deliver mental health and associated care services. Commissioners are expected to ensure value for money from the services they contract. That means ensuring efficient use of resources and of operating costs and targeting and monitoring special outcomes. CiP seeks to make available carer members who can fulfil the role of ‘critical friend’ for commissioners of MH and related service.
Carers seek the best possible outcomes for the person they support; they like also to see all services and facilities as fully used as possible. They are therefore natural allies for commissioners in building service specifications, evaluation of ongoing services, identification of weaknesses and contributing informed inputs towards service improvement or redesign. Competent managers of services may be expected to identify any weaknesses in that service and to take initiatives to improve matters. Carers report that many of the things that seem not to happen as well as they might, occur when their relative is in transition between different parts of the service. As witnesses of shortcomings at these stages, carers can offer commissioners useful insights when reviewing the effectiveness of the related systems and procedures.