Council takes back control of Southend mental health services

Southend Council has taken back control of mental health services following a damning review of its current provider.

The Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) has managed mental health services using Southend Council staff, but a review of the service was ordered by the council.

It followed a Channel 4 Dispatches programme which highlighted ill-treatment of patients on wards in Essex.

An inquiry is also under way into the deaths of some patients under EPUT care.

The council review was due to be discussed behind closed doors at Tuesday’s people scrutiny committee – but following objections by the Conservative opposition, and a subsequent vote by committee members, the item was discussed in public.

The review found Southend residents were not getting the best service and the “vision” for Southend mental health services were not compatible with EPUT services.

It also found individuals were not being assessed properly and there was an “over-medicalised” model of care.

Poor record-keeping was noted and the report said the council was not being kept suitably informed about performance. There was also an “over-reliance on costly residential and institutional care.”

Tony Cox, leader of the Conservative Group, told the meeting: “It is quite crystal clear why we need to bring it back in-house. It’s where it [the report] says ‘absence of a shared vision for mental health services’. We do need that shared vision. We do need collaborative working.

“Lack of assurance that individuals were being assessed under the care act is another reason why I think it’s the right move. Poor quality of the performance information, we need to be able to monitor that to ensure we get the right performance data so we can provide the right services. For me this is the right move and something I whole heartedly support.”

Lydia Hyde, counclllor for St Laurence Ward, added: “I think this is absolutely the right move. It is a list of quite concerning things.

“One of the things that jumps out for me is there was an over-medicalised model of care previously. I think that can dehumanise.

“It can strip someone of their identity when they are receiving their services.

“I’m really pleased we saw this and commissioned this review.”

A spokesperson for Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) said: “We remain committed to working closely with our partners and look forward to working alongside Southend City Council in new ways to ensure local communities receive the best community health and care services.”

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter