Firm is stripped of mental health service contract

One of the Essex’s largest health trusts has been stripped of a contract after NHS commissioners described its mental health services as “unacceptable”.

Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) provides care to 2.5 million in Essex and surrounding counties.

The trust hit the headlines last week amid claims that staff were having sex with patients in Essex and supplying them Class A drugs.

Now NHS chiefs in Basildon have terminated the trust’s psychological therapy service for people with mild and moderate mental problems.

GPs, nurses and officers of the Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) board agreed to decommission EPUT and to look at potential new suppliers.

The board was told on Thursday that failures in treating people with depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress included excessively long waiting times, failures in referrals to crisis provision and poor contact between the service and GPs and patients.

“GPs are becoming cynical that [the service] is achieving anything for their patients,” said the report to the board.

CCG officers had initially suggested sitting down with EPUT NHS executives to consider a new model for the improving access to psychological therapies programme, known as IAPT, rather than finding a new service provider.

But concerned board members threw the plan out.

Dr Babafemi Salako, a GP board member, said: “We cannot continue with EPUT. Take the contract away and get something proper in place for once.”

The board deputy chair Tony Cox also rejected the proposal to continue with EPUT and referred to the report on his desk, which highlighted “excessive” patient waiting times.

“We don’t want delays for patients,” he said.

Katherine Kirk MBE, board lay member and governance committee chair, added: “This has gone of years and years. We’ve had this service in place throughout south Essex. It’s never really delivered. It’s been completely unacceptable for a long time.

“We talk about it and get reports, but we have something here that is unacceptable.”

She was backed by Dr Julia Hale, consultant for secondary care, who said: “My concerns echo Katherine’s. I’m not happy about what I read in this report that we should continue with current provider. We have a provider that does not deliver the goods.”

Members agreed to decommission the current IAPT service provider with a notice period of a year, and start a procurement in May 2018, for a new service model to start in April 2019.

EPUT denied its psychology services were failing in Basildon and said it had seen a “significant reduction” in waiting times.

“Our average wait from referral to first appointment is four days,” said a spokesman.

The trust also denied it was non compliant with the IAPT “constitutional standards”, as stated by Basildon CCG in its report.

“We can confirm that we are consistently meeting these,” the trust said.

The trust said there would be no redundancies if the contract is not retained after procurement and applications would be made for staff to transfer to the new provider.

The spokesman added: “We are working very closely with our clinical commissioning group colleagues to ensure the right level of funding is available for mental health services across Essex.”

Although Southend patients currently use EPUT psychological therapy service, commissioners said they had not yet made a decision on whether to continue with the same service provider.


  1. simon.crossgreen.
    There needs to be a full and wide ranging inquiry (in public) into the activities of EPUT and predecessor SEPT. This is long overdue and simply ending the contract will not address systemic failure and criminal behaviours of this trust for over 12 years. I will be pressing the case for such an inquiry which must leave no stone unturned and bring the guilty to justice.

  2. simon.crossgreen28th March 4:29 pm
    I am trying to get together a case for a full in public inquiry into the failings of EPUT and SEPT as I believe they have utterly failed for almost 2 decades to supply services to protect MH patients in their care. This latest failure is the latest in a systemic inability to provide the contracted service. Please keep up your fight and I assure you that you are not alone. I am Simon Ashley Cross on Facebook if you wish to contact me. If you do not feel it is necessary please keep pressure on the Councils and CCG’s who have totally failed in their duty of care by employing these poor organisations.

  3. 29th March 5:02 pm
    Don’t blame the monkeys brought in on the cheap by the fat cat executives at Basildon hospital. Its Basildon hospital executive that is a complete and abject failure and has been for decades. They are very adept at ensuring all the tick box exercises are completed but in reality the services and the executive are a complete failure. Millions is wasted on these muppets and their accountant chums cooking the books. meanwhile thousands have died and many thousands more neglected. Sack the lot and get some real humans in to run the place as it was designed, with care and compassion, rather than for the benefit of those in slick greasy suits and very large wallets.

  4. (OPEN LETTER WITHOUT PREJUDICE) Dr Julia Hale well that name brings a prophetic breath of fresh air.
    Well done Basildon for booting them out how about Hepplewhite or Pike at the North East Essex Clinical Commission Group for Colchester doing the same? ?
    I can quote at least 5 separate cases all of one particular gender in what i deem as “medical and social cleansing” carrying on, where the patients all between the ages of 20 to 43 have had their DSS support stripped, some of have been told they will literally have to attempt suicide and be sectioned before the system readmits them. One of them has tried to kill himself at least 3 times and has been shunted into a hostel in suffolk out of his home town.
    He alleges that while in care in North Essex he reported staff after a threats and a bullying attempt. The CQC were called in to take a statement from the chap, before the cqc interview he was interviewed by a senior member of staff and told that his treatment would be made difficult for him if he continued with the complaint against the trust. The person making these threats has now been promoted to an area management position covering highly dangerous areas of this public service.
    I know of one Former NHS Manager that has worked for the acute system in Essex who are long term ill and deemed treatment resistant, they have washed their hands of this trust using their semi retirement money to support themselves privately with medical and social care. Both they and their husband who was a high ranking public sector official have described the trust to me as dangerous and ineffective.
    How much longer will jenkin, patel and quince sit on the fence? Next time a Keogh style review comes on board, some of us will not be as generous in holding back info and paperwork to the BBC.
    The code of omerta and the blatant manipulation and disregard of N.I.C.E. guidelines is criminal and should be treated as a chargeable criminal offence.
    Transferring staff from one trust to another is a bit like taking out a tumour and putting it back somewhere else in the body. If organisations like EPUT are trapped by workers union rights and protections then they should think about doing what CC Kavanagh has done at essex police and start cutting out the rot mostly with disciplinary convictions.

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