Public sector commissioning of local mental health services from the third sector

Document type
Working Paper
Rees, James; Miller, Robin; Buckingham, Heather
Third Sector Research Centre
Date of publication
1 May 2014
Working paper; 122
Mental health services, Social Policy
Social welfare
Material type

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This working paper provides an initial report on research that sets out to discover the realities of commissioning from the perspective of the public sector bodies responsible for its implementation and the third sector organisations who choose to engage with commissioners as part of achieving their missions. Based on a case study service field (mental health) and geographical locality (an urban conurbation in the UK), a survey and series of semi-structured interviews were undertaken with key stakeholders from the public and third sectors to understand the practices of commissioning. Due to the key focus (and often concerns) of third sector organisations on procurement this was explored in particular.

From the findings of this study commissioning is still to fulfil its expected potential in relation to improving outcomes for people with mental health problems and efficiencies within the system. It is not possible to infer if this is purely a question of commissioning not being implemented thoroughly as yet or if its principles are fundamentally flawed – what is clear is that without the necessary capacity, time and expertise it is unlikely to succeed.

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