Councillors approve award of new Mental Health Services contract

Councillors on Aberdeenshire Council’s Policy and Resources Committee have approved the award of a new contract for Mental Health Services across Aberdeenshire to the Scottish Association of Mental Health (SAMH).

The decision follows an invitation to organisations to bid for the new service specification.

The current contracts end on 31 December 2016 and the existing providers will continue until the new service begins on January 1 next year to enable a smooth transition of service for Aberdeenshire’s service users. The tender has been progressed in three ‘lots’, covering north, central and south  Aberdeenshire given the broad scope of the services.

A report to councillors set out the reasons for the contract, highlighting that Aberdeenshire Council requires a community-based mental health service to promote the achievement of a mentally well and inclusive Aberdeenshire in which people who experience mental disorder are enabled to recover and achieve their personal outcomes.

The service is being commissioned to provide more equitable services across north, central and south Aberdeenshire; to target service provision more appropriately to individual risk and need; and to support those recovering from mental disorders and help them enjoy mainstream activities alongside other members of the community.

The report goes on to say that no existing service users will find services suddenly inaccessible to them. All will be introduced to the new provider and support plans agreed.

It further says that new services will address a number of current gaps in provision with additional:
• A move away from buildings based services to more community based provision
• Increased focus on recovery
• Improved links to Employability Services
• Building community capacity by encouraging the use of volunteers and peer support
• An increased focus on service user outcomes, rather than outputs
• The geographical spread of service provision is better matched to known demand.

Councillors discussed the new way forward for delivering mental health services, and on agreement awarded a two year contract (with extension options) to SAMH, described as the clear preferred bidder in each lot.
 
In a statement, committee chair and council leader Councillor Richard Thomson said: “This contract has been deliberately structured to uphold a number of key principles, the most important of which is that we want to deliver mental health services based on equity and fairness across Aberdeenshire, with input from service users and based on delivering services at point of need. We are looking forward to working with SAMH and would like to thank the other organisations for their involvement with this detailed and necessarily complex process.”