Council ends contract for young people

NHS trust criticised for failing to meet targets, reports James Cracknell

North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT)A contract for children’s mental health services in Waltham Forest has been terminated after being slammed as “not satisfactory”.

Waltham Forest Council made the move to end its partnership with North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT) after claiming the trust was failing to meet the targets it had been given.

The £1.14million three-year contract for the ‘Young People’s Specialist Early Response Service’ was signed in April this year, replacing a previous child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) contract that was also delivered by NELFT.

Explaining at last month’s cabinet meeting why the move had been made, Naheed Asghar, the council’s cabinet member for health and voluntary sector partnerships, said: “The results are not satisfactory and the contract is not fit for purpose.

“This affects our more vulnerable and at-risk residents and we need to terminate the contract. Continuing it could result in a failure of our statutory duty to protect young people. Taking this step is very unusual and we have given it a lot of thought, but we cannot compromise on this.”

A report outlining the decision noted that “NELFT and the council hold different views on the scale and scope of the service” but that the NHS trust had refused to a mutual termination of the contract, forcing the council to intervene.

The report also stated that “appropriate steps” would be taken to ensure the service could be continued without NELFT, but Cllr Asghar said: “We cannot at the moment set out the details of our alternative provision.”

Council leader Clare Cogill also told the meeting: “We set out to do our best but we are brutally realistic; when an organisation is failing and it is affecting our young people, we will act.”

Other contracts being delivered by NELFT on behalf of Waltham Forest Council will not be affected by the decision. A spokesperson for the NHS trust said: “Unfortunately NELFT and the council have not been able to resolve the differences around expectation on the delivery of the contract to provide a Young People’s Specialist Early Response Service.

“These differences do not reflect the very positive collaborative working relationship we have in our many other areas of joint working on young people’s mental health services and other service areas.

“We will continue to work very closely with the council to ensure a safe and smooth transfer to the new arrangements for this service area.”