Launch of the new JCP-MH Guidance for Commissioners

Oliver Bashford's picture

Yesterday at the Royal College of Nursing in central London, a group of clinicians, commissioners and other interested parties gathered for the launch of the new joint commissioning panel for mental health (JCP-MH) guidance for commissioners of financially, environmentally and socially sustainable mental health services, followed by the mental health sustainability summit.

We heard presentations from a series of inspiring speakers and some remarkable examples of good practice.

In the morning Dr Geraldine Strathdee, the national clinical director for mental health, gave an overview of how the new guidance fits into the broader national priorities, such as the drive for parity of esteem, service-user empowerment and improved psychological literacy, prevention of childhood abuse, improved mental health support in schools and the workplace, and a focus on addressing the physical ill-health of people with mental illness.

Professor Dame Sue Bailey, president of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, spoke about how psychiatry has taken the lead on sustainability and in the coming months and years a goal will be to permeate sustainable thinking throughout all the medical colleges.

Dr Daniel Maughan gave an overview of the new guide and spoke about the need for healthcare providers and commissioners to refocus and think about health in the broader context, to think about healthy communities, resilience and our relationship with the natural environment, and described the legal and ethical imperative to minimise and mitigate our contribution to climate change.

Ian Hulatt, professional lead for mental health at the Royal College of Nursing, then spoke about how sustainability is now high on the agenda at the RCN and how we may be at a pivotal moment in the College’s history as the drive to combat climate change and find sustainable ways of working is rapidly becoming a priority.

There were presentations of case studies including the multi-award winning, socially responsible NAViGO Community Interest Company, where 15% of staff are ex-service users, and service users are encouraged to become members of the organisation. All members are entitled to vote on important issues affecting the company and as such there is a shared ownership. Amanda Carrol, a service user and member of staff at the organisation praised the non-judgemental, supportive and caring environment that had helped her through her illness and back into work.

In the afternoon the RCPsych scholars met along with representatives from their commissioning groups to discuss progress with the scholarship projects. Meanwhile, the summit took place in the main hall, where seven key questions were discussed in small groups to share ideas and come up with suggestions for how to move forward.

An account of this meeting would not be complete without mentioning the arrival of four luminous, lycra-clad cyclists, who wheeled their bicycles into the meeting halfway through the morning session, helmets still on and headlights flashing. These were Drs Phil Davidson, Adrian James, Julian Mason and Mike Pearce. They had cycled 65 miles from Oxford to be at the summit, and in doing so highlighted that sustainable travel can enjoyable and exhilarating as well as low-carbon.

For me, as a psychiatrist, this event was interesting, inspiring and exciting. At the heart of the sustainability movement there is a determination to make healthcare, and society at large, better for future generations. This long-term vision, so often overlooked, shone through the presentations and was an inspiration to me and undoubtedly to much of the audience. The task now is to spread at every level of organisation a concern for sustainability, from front-line mental health staff to commissioners managing the contracts.


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