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.

  • seeking values-based commissioning (VbC)
  • CiP facilitated a consultation of stakeholder – carers, service users and third sector providers – for a PCT needing to procure its MH services from an external provider trust. The comprehensive report of feedback went forward to the bidding trusts. It was used by them in the negotiation process and became a key monitoring document for th e commissioning team in the PCT.
  • CiP contributed to the content of a peer self-assessment being set up by the NHS Regional Development Centre for use across the West Midlands and intended for use as a replacement for the discontinued ‘Autumn Assessment’.
  • CiP is committed to helping carers develop mutually-effective relationships with their local health and social care commissioners. The aim is that carers have a fair opportunity to present their view of local needs and hopes for services and that the commissioners are comfortable to recognise and accept them. A working group of carers produced a briefing paper that offers guidance to carers and commissioners in involving carers in commissioning processes.
  • There ever growing importance of values-based commissioning and effective outcomes. It is likely that this working group will be re-formed, so that on going support and advice can be given to active carers. If you are interested in this topic and would like to consider joining the working group, please contact John Copping.
  • The immediate plan is to publish positive experiences and achieved benefits of carer involvement on this website, so if you have examples of good practice in your area please user our contact form to let us know -

Promoting the Carers' Voice in the way Mental Health Services are Planned, Implemented and Run.

Carers in Partnership CIC
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