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Identifying and meeting national training needs for mental health commissioners

A major service transformation was put in place to reshape the way services for children and young people (CYP) with mental health (MH) needs are commissioned and delivered across the system. To equip commissioners to deliver this large scale change, they needed to identify gaps in their skills and knowledge and address these through development opportunities.

Our team carried out a diagnostic analysis of the starting position, taking surveys and interviewing local commissioners to understand what was required from a development programme. Following extensive stakeholder engagement, we created a model development programme to be used at a local level.

Initial intelligence was gathered to understand commissioners’ training requirements, which indicated there was wide variation in commissioning knowledge and ability. This highlighted the need to strengthen commissioner support, and we found an appetite amongst CYP MH commissioners for a national development programme.

We then supported NHS England to investigate the development needs of these commissioners across the country and designed and delivered a national CYP MH commissioning development programme. This year-long programme for a cohort of 121 commissioners included three national events, four regional seminars, nine virtual peer learning tutorials and 15 peer-led groups concluded in December 2017.

Participants have fed back positively, with 97% rating the latest seminar positively for “achievement of learning outcomes”.

The client is keen to explore how to build on the programme for future cohorts and for other commissioning portfolios.