Lambeth is one of the most deprived areas in the UK with a mental healthcare system struggling to handle high levels of referrals and people stuck in secondary care. Like many other healthcare systems around the UK, it has seen its funding cut significantly in recent years. The Collaborative was formed in response to these challenges. It has wholeheartedly embraced co-production - the idea that people’s needs are better met when they are involved in an equal and reciprocal relationship with professionals - as the foundation of its approach to mental healthcare. The Collaborative is truly unique as it is trying to radically transform all aspects of its mental healthcare system simultaneously through the use of co-production.
Co-production requires a significant shift of responsibility from the professional to the patient, which can often meet resistance from professionals who do not want to change their day-to-day working lives. We ran a series of workshops to generate insights from both professionals and service users to help us create a framework that will overcome this barrier. We are producing a range of other processes to work alongside this framework, which together will help create a cultural change and evolve co-production organically amongst Lambeth’s workforce.
Our role also involves supporting the Collaborative to formulate policies that will better instigate the growth of co-production. We have co-designed a model to determine how commissioners can enable the delivery of co-productive services, with a focus on building capacity in primary care to prevent the move to secondary care. It addresses a variety of issues facing commissioners ranging from how to better connect with communities so you can identify opportunities and challenges within them, to how to better assess outcomes, and encourage providers to work differently and more collaboratively.
The commissioning model is currently being tested in a select few of Lambeth’s hospitals. We are working with some of the most difficult, entrenched cases in the area to explore this new approach to acute mental services.
After refinement and further development, this model will be applied on a larger scale to make Lambeth’s mental healthcare system genuinely and entirely co-productive. Ultimately, this will greatly improve outcomes for a wide-range of patients, which will dramatically transform the quality of life for a large number of Lambeth’s inhabitants and reduce the burden on its healthcare services.