‘Better Together’ – Launch of New Mental Health Trust for Dudley and Walsall – 01/10/08

Better Together

Celebrating the launch of the Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust are (from left) Mark Cooke, Dudley PCT Chief Executive, Gary Graham, Chief Executive of the new trust, and Paul Jennings, Walsall Teaching PCT Chief Executive.

A new organisation that aims to improve m­ental health services in Dudley and Walsall will be launched on Wednesday (October 1st 2008) – with the slogan ‘better together’.

Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust hits the ground running, with a range of existing hospital and community services throughout both boroughs.

It now plans to strengthen and improve these services after consulting local mental health clinicians, service users and the public about any changes.

Mental health services in the two boroughs were previously provided by Dudley Primary Care Trust and NHS Walsall.

But, following widespread consultation between September and December 2007, it was agreed that services could be better provided if the two boroughs teamed up and combined their expertise, best practice and budgets into one specialist mental health Trust.

And Health Secretary Alan Johnson in August announced the go-ahead for the new Trust, which now provides mental health services to a total population of 558,000 with a budget of approximately £62 million a year.

The commissioning – or buying – of the services remain the responsibility of the Primary Care Trusts and local authorities.

Glyn Shaw was appointed chair of the new organisation, and he recently announced the appointment of Gary Graham, formerly deputy chief executive of East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, as chief executive.

“We’re at the dawn of an exciting new era for mental health services in Dudley and Walsall,” said Mr Shaw. “It really will be a case of ‘better together’, which is our slogan.

“As an organisation solely focused upon mental health, we have the opportunity to pool our expertise and learn from each other to make sure that we are providing the very best care for our communities. In the future, we will have the potential to develop more specialist care locally so that fewer patients have to travel elsewhere for certain kinds of treatment.”

Mr Graham said: “One in four people in the UK develops a mental health problem at some time during their lives and we want to make sure that, for the population of Dudley and Walsall, the most appropriate services are available when they need them, as close to their homes as possible.

“We’re the 55th Mental Health Trust created in the UK – and we aim to be in the top three, both in performance and in the range of services we offer.”

A group of mental health service users across Dudley and Walsall have attended regular meetings to give their views to help set up the new Trust.

One of them, former teacher Mrs Lynne Jankowska, of Wordsley, said: “We’re very pleased that service users have been involved from an early stage.

“I have received treatment from Dudley mental health services off and on over the last 25 years for bipolar affective disorder, otherwise known as manic depression, and they have helped me a great deal.

“We are very optimistic that the new specialist mental health Trust will be able to attract more investment to further improve existing services and develop new ones.”

The organisation now runs Bushey Fields Hospital in Dudley and Bloxwich Hospital and Dorothy Pattison Hospital in Walsall, as well as a range of community-based mental health teams and primary care services, to which GPs can refer patients for mental health support.

There are also specialist teams to help children and teenagers, people with more severe types of mental illness, those suffering a crisis and those showing the first signs of becoming unwell.

All 1,200 staff who used to work in mental health services across the two Primary Care Trusts have transferred to the new organisation. They also continue to work closely with specialist social care staff from the two local authorities, who will remain employed by the respective local authorities.