Health and social care services opened up to big society

Published on Wednesday, 30 March 2011 10:35
Posted by Scott Buckler

NHS staff and patients will get more control of their services thanks to a package of measures announced by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley at the social enterprise conference, VOICE 11 in London today(30th March)

The measures all put into practice the Big Society values of reconnecting people with the services they provide and use, giving them the ownership and freedom to innovate and make the changes which Whitehall is too remote to lead.


Measures include:
•    The Right to Provide scheme which will enable all staff working anywhere in NHS and care services where it is clinically appropriate to set up as independent organisations to run the services they deliver.
•    To give staff the financial support necessary to do this at least £10 million additional funding is being given to the Social Enterprise Investment Fund.

The Fund has already helped support over 400 social enterprises to establish themselves and compete to provide services.
These measures are not designed to make it easier for private providers to enter the NHS – some of the most successful examples of this approach have come from within the NHS. City Healthcare Partnership in Hull provides services to over half a million people including reducing emergency admissions and any profits it generates as part of this are made available as grants to fund local voluntary projects to improve health and wellbeing.

Andrew Lansley reaffirmed the Department's commitment to making choice a reality for patients including a choice of any provider that is appropriately qualified. The Department will issue its response to the consultation, Liberating the NHS: Greater choice and control, and guidance on implementing Any Qualified Provider, shortly.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

“For too long staff and patients have seen their local services dictated by Whitehall officials who have never seen the work they do day-to-day. This is wrong and stifles the energy and ambition that all health professionals should have to deliver the very best they can for their patients.
“I’ve heard from many NHS staff over the years that they could run their services better if they were given room to breathe and felt their voices were heard. I want as many of them as possible to come forward now and take more control of the NHS and care services they provide.
“By giving staff real control of their services and patients real choice over who they receive care from we’re restoring the balance of power. This is what we mean when we talk about Big Society – reconnecting people with the services they provide and rely on.”

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, said:

“The Department of Health is taking a really positive lead devolving power to people on the front line who know how things can be done better. Across the public services we will soon give many more front line staff the chance to form mutual organisations and take control of their services with similar ‘Rights to Provide’.

“There’s huge pent up frustration in the public sector because innovative ideas have been stifled by top-down control. Every time I visit existing public sector mutuals I’m impressed by the enthusiasm staff show for improving their service. Evidence shows that productivity rockets when staff take a stake in their business, this means better, more efficient public services as well as a more rewarding experience for staff.”
Continuing the shift of power away from Whitehall, the Department is today also publishing clear guidance and a timetable for the transition from the current patient involvement groups to the much more powerful local HealthWatch groups. They will have stronger powers to shape and hold to account local services than the current Local Involvement Networks.

This package of messages will return the freedom and power to staff and patients who have for too long been frustrated at being unable to make a difference to the services they provide and use.

Source: DH

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