Headlines: November 20th, 2009

The first twenty projects, designed by NHS staff to improve patient care have been unveiled. All frontline staff in Primary Care Trusts can set up a social enterprise to improve their services under the “right to request” scheme and the first wave of projects cover services for homeless people, children and patients with mental health problems.

The initiative to encourage and support social enterprises is the first of its kind in the world. Each of the chosen organisations will get £30,000 from the Department of Health and the support of a dedicated mentor as well as being able to benefit from professional development opportunities. Each successful application has been approved by the relevant Primary Care Trust and Strategic Health Authority. Funding for staff thinking of pursuing social enterprise is being made available from the Social Enterprise Unit at the Department of Health and the Social Enterprise Investment Fund.

Phil Hope, the Care Services Minister, said: “Frontline staff see first hand how effective local services are, what works and what doesn’t. I want staff to use their specialist skills and knowledge to transform local services and improve the health and well being of patients and users.”

The Chief Executive of the Social Enterprise Coalition, Jonathan Bland said the sector now has an estimated 6,000 enterprises delivering health and social care in the UK and he added: “This figure continues to rise as growing numbers of health and social care professionals look at social enterprise as a viable option to tackle unmet needs and address health inequalities.”