Future of the Concordat

In February 2014, 22 national signatory organisations agreed and published the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat. The Concordat set out the principles that need to be in place for services to provide good quality responses to people in crisis, and included an action plan which reflected the ambitious commitments undertaken by most signatory organisations. We produced a short report that described the successful progress against these actions in the summer of 2015.

We know, from early directions given by the new Prime Minister, that improving mental health services, and ensuring that the police contribute at an appropriate level to crisis care responses, will remain priorities for this Government.

We also know that NHS England will invest new funding from 2017/18 to make further improvements to crisis care services which will mean that far more local services – in Emergency Departments and in communities – meet Concordat principles and standards.

But at the end of October the two year partnership with Mind (funded firstly by the Department of Health, and this year by NHS England) to implement the Concordat nationally and locally will end. Therefore certain aspects of the programme will end, and others will change.

This article sets out how the Department of Health, the Home Office and NHS England, will work to maintain the Concordat programme from November.

Steering Group

The national signatory organisations will continue to meet twice yearly as a Steering Group. There is still work to do, all national signatories have refreshed actions, including NHS England’s four year crisis care programme, and progress in developments in data and metrics.

The Department of Health and the Home Office will alternate responsibility for hosting and organising the meetings, and will take on Mind’s current secretariat responsibilities – e.g. for managing agendas, and circulating minutes. It is the intention that Ministers from the Department of Health and Home Office will chair.

Crisis Care Concordat website

The Concordat website is a well-used resource and has been actively managed by Mind to include best practice documents, specially-commissioned blogs and newsletters, as well as to host local Concordat groups’ action plans, declarations and lead contact details. Current hosting arrangements will remain in place to run until January 2017. But Mind’s work to editorialise, create new content for the site and post action plans and other information onto the site will cease from end October 2016 at which point the Crisis Care Concordat inbox will also close.

The Department of Health is currently reviewing the costs of hosting longer term, and the practicalities of managing a pared down version of the current Crisis Care Concordat website. It is possible that some provision – such as to allow for the continued updating of local action plans – may be preserved. An update on plans moving forward will be circulated prior to 31st October 2016.

Support to national and local partners

Signatory organisations will be aware of the support and advice that Mind has made available to them in the initial implementation phases of the Concordat. This was even more the case with local areas, where Mind’s roadshow events and detailed follow up work, did so much to establish the local CCC groups.

These responsibilities now fall to the Department of Health and the Home Office, as part of both departments’ ongoing stakeholder liaison work. For national partners, the Steering Group will be the main forum for issues to be raised for a shared response. For local CCC groups, NHS England will also have a continuing role.