Sunday, June 24, 2007

Social enterprise in the NHS - not tilting at Windmills

The Kings Fund and several other key players in the debate about NHS reform ran a a two-day simulation event of a health economy model from 2008 to 2011. The publication Windmill 2007: The Future of Health Care Reforms in England (pdf available) draws out the main findings from the exercise involving more than 100 participants including clinicians, managers, policy-makers, regulators and analysts.

On the subject of the role for social enterprise, Windmill 2007 queried whether this was "a missed opportunity". It noted:

The government has supported the development of social enterprise as a means of combining commercial rigour with the benefits and values of the third sector. However, within the NHS, the model is poorly understood – by both commissioners and providers – and it is questionable whether social enterprise will operate on a scale that will enable it to become the model for mainstream service providers.

Let us hope the government, NHS employers and the representatives of NHS employees read the report and act on the recommendations. These include PCTs preparing their directly employed staff to work at arm’s length or outside the NHS and the Royal Colleges and other representative bodies enabling their members to understand and prepare for change.

Social enterprises (and through them professionals, patients and communities) playing a leading role in healthcare in a post-monopoly NHS is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.

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