Northamptonshire’s Mental Health Collaborative has expanded its scope to encompass the county’s partnership work to support people with learning disability and autism, as part of continuing efforts to improve local services and outcomes and reduce health and wellbeing inequalities.

United by the common aims of the two programmes, the newly established Northamptonshire Mental Health, Learning Disability and Autism (MHLDA) Collaborative brings together a number of local health and care organisations, clinicians, third sector partners and service users and carers to work on transforming the county’s mental health, learning disability and autism care pathways, as part of our journey towards becoming an Integrated Care System (ICS).

The work of the MHLDA Collaborative is now split into four workstream ‘pillars’, each led by individuals currently working in the local health and social care system. The pillars are supported by enabler groups, including the MHLDA Collaborative Leadership Team, and report regularly to the Northamptonshire Strategic Mental Health Steering Group, as well as the overarching Executive Group.

The voices of patients, services users and carers are heard at every level – ‘co-production’ is a golden thread that runs through all of the pillars to ensure that we understand the experiences of service users and their carers, developing pathways of care that meet their needs. This includes the election of experts by experience to support the pillar leads. Each of the pillars has held their first meetings in recent weeks, and have either appointed or are working on appointing experts by experience to ensure the service user voice is represented on each workstream. Details of each pillar and its key leads are shown below, and regular updates from the pillars and the Northamptonshire Mental Health Collaborative as a whole will be provided in future editions of Partnership Update – starting with a focus on the lived-experience pillar leads and co-production next month.

About the four MHLDA Collaborative ‘pillars’

Population health and prevention

This pillar sets out to use engagement and forecasting based on our understanding of the Northamptonshire population to predict future challenges and inform actions that prevent mental ill-health where possible. It aims to implement initiatives to help communities stay well, prevent people in recovery from mental ill-health from relapsing or getting worse, and reduce suicide with an eventual ambition of zero suicide. Pillar lead is David Murray, Consultant in Public Health for Public Health Northamptonshire (PHN), and clinical lead is Sarah Hillier, Chief Executive Officer of Mind Northamptonshire.

Outcomes-based mental health

This pillar of work is focused on each factor that might cause mental ill-health, some of which may be traditionally outside of ‘health care’ provision – for example, housing, employment and community issues. By taking this ‘holistic’ (‘whole person’) approach, it aims to make sure Northamptonshire’s health system recognises and responds to people’s needs, and improves access to mental health care – meeting the obligations set out in the NHS Long Term Plan. Pillar lead is Jen Holling, Assistant Director of Business, Partnerships and Programmes for Mental Health, Learning Disability and Specialty Services at Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT), and clinical lead is Dr Catherine Massey, GP at Abington Park Surgery and Clinical Director of Grand Union Primary Care Network (PCN).

Acute and community crisis care

This pillar aims to provide reliable, effective and compassionate care to those with the most complex and challenging mental health issues. This includes ensuring that people attending hospitals and emergency departments with mental health needs are treated quickly and receive the aftercare they need to recover from crisis. This pillar aims to provide options for people in crisis, so they receive timely care in the least restrictive environment possible, and support the carers and families of people with complex mental health issues, so they can continue to care for and support them with energy and confidence. Pillar lead is Adam Smith, Assistant Director of Criminal Justice Mental Health, Perinatal Mental Health and Learning Disabilities at NHFT, and clinical lead is Jo Sturgess, Head of Clinical Operations at Kettering General Hospital (KGH).

Learning disability and autism

This pillar aims to drive evidence-based understanding across Northamptonshire’s health and care system of learning disability, as well as autism health and need, in co-production with service users and their carers. Working in partnership to ensure services and resources are in place to meet people’s needs first time, every time, the pillar aims to tackle inequalities in access and experience of care, while ensuring seamless pathways of support are in place. Pillar lead is Amy Brock, Assistant Director at Northamptonshire Adult Social Services, and clinical lead is Dr Tom Howseman, GP Partner at St Luke’s Primary Care Centre and Clinical Lead for Learning Disabilities at Northamptonshire CCG.