Business and the NHS

In Gloucestershire where I live we’re faced with two options for the provision of local healthcare:

Option 1) a standalone NHS Trust, the only option which could guarantee services staying in the NHS

Option 2) a ‘tender process’ open to anyone, including private companies, to takeover.

We are asked to respond to a survey stating our preferred option.

I’ve chosen option 1

My position is that of a supplier of software services to NHS trusts which are outside Gloucestershire. We’re a social enterprise, investing all our surplus in social objectives, as illustrated on our website.

Writing recently on this profit-for-purpose approach to business, I state our position:

The P-CED model was adapted to an existing software development business in the UK and from 2004, began operating in the supply chain of several major corporations, government departments and NHS trusts. This is where we’ve always seen the role of social enterprise in healthcare, in providing a competitive commercial service which creates additional social value.  

There’s justifiable public concern that business as usual will use the vehicle  of social enterprise as a Trojan Horse. I’ve written earlier  about some of the deception we’ve seen already in Gloucestershire and elsewhere.

Many  point to the lack of definition of social enterprise as a key issue as we approach 2013, when the Public Services (Social Value) Act takes effect.

As Simon Teasdale pointed out in a recent online conversation – “I was struck by how many in the social enterprise movement (SEUK included) are happy to use the mythical figure of 62,000 social enterprises to accentuate their importance, while fully aware that 90% of these are profit distributing businesses.”

Without definition and more importantly scrutiny, we leave ourselves vulnerable.  Retaining NHS Trusts would appear to be our only line of defence against predatory business.

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