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Our Vision

By collaborating and innovating, we will deliver the best quality care and the highest levels of mental well-being across the West Midlands.

Quite simply we want to make our mental health services the best they can be, for everyone in our local communities.

The MERIT Vanguard programme is an innovative and vibrant partnership of mental health organisations in the West Midlands, which have come together to develop new ways of working to improve the way mental health services are provided for the future. Our programme aims to deliver greater resilience, innovation and training across the metropolitan West Midlands and Warwickshire, covering a population of some 3.4 million people.

The Vanguard began in 2016, as a partnership between four NHS trusts:

  • Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (BSMHFT)
  • Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (BCPFT)
  • Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust (CWPT)
  • Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (DWMH).

In early 2018 we welcomed a fifth organisation: Forward Thinking Birmingham (FTB), the city’s mental health partnership for people aged 0-25.

Our short film tells you more about our Crisis Care work.


Central funding from NHS England for the MERIT programme drew to a close in Spring 2018, but our work continues. With the partner trusts, we have developed five key priority areas for the next year:

  • Developing our Crisis Care website to make it a standalone product.
  • Adding further data to our innovative Electronic Health Record Viewer, so that clinicians have more background on those service users who are seen outside their 'home' trust.
  • Refreshing the MERIT Bed Finder, which allows bed managers to see more information about the availability of each other's beds.
  • Expanding our Staff Training Passport, which allows staff to transfer more easily between jobs in different organisations, and associated work on the skills staff need to work in mental health roles.
  • Working with our partners to offer Mental Health First Aid training across the West Midlands.

In common with the other 49 Vanguard programmes across England, we will also be sharing the learning from our work with the rest of the NHS and wider public sector.

Some of our key projects

Improving care for people in mental health crisis

MERIT will create a model of excellence in crisis care across the four partner trusts to promote quality improvement, consistency of practice and better collaborative working and produce a blueprint which can then be replicated elsewhere.

Case study: How appreciative inquiry could influence service improvement

Case study: The MERIT Electronic Health Record Viewer - improved access to the mental health records of patients from neighbouring areas

Case study: The MERIT Training Passport - reducing the time and cost of repeated staff training

Case study: The MERIT Bed Finder - improved access to mental health beds in neighbouring areas

Establishing a recovery culture in mental health

MERIT is committed to improving care for people with mental health problems and is involving local people in developing the service to help patients in recovery. We have run a series of events of interest to service users, carers, mental healthcare professionals, students and academics.

Case study: Recovery with Ron and Karen

Case study: Mental Health First Aid

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