Andrew Lansley announces £10m for NHS staff to exercise 'right to provide'

Health secretary says this will enable health and social care staff to 'take back control of the NHS and care services'

Andrew Lansley
Andrew Lansley

£10m will be available to help health and social care staff exercise the right to create social enterprises from NHS services, the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, told delegates at Voice11, the Social Enterprise Coalition conference in London.

He said new guidance published yesterday by the Department of Health formalised the 'right to provide' for all NHS staff.

At least £10m would be available to fund the right to provide through the Social Enterprise Investment Fund, he said. The fund, administered by the Social Investment Business, helps health organisations develop social enterprises.

The right to provide, a government-wide scheme that will eventually give almost all public sector workers the right to spin out services was announced last year by Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister. Individual departments have been given the task of publishing the detailed guidance on how it will work in practice for staff working under their authority.

The Labour government previously provided a similar scheme, 'right to request', which gave community health staff the right to form social enterprises. This was taken up by about 25,000 NHS staff.

But Lansley said the new service would extend to even more NHS workers.

"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," he said. "I want as many of them as possible to come forward now and take back control of the NHS and care services.

"If micro-management in the NHS has been a malady, social enterprise is the cure."

Lansley said he also planned to cut the red tape around NHS procurement to make it easier for voluntary sector organisations and social enterprises to bid to provide health services.

The new system, he said, would offer equality to "any willing provider".

Also at the conference, Vince Cable, the business secretary, told delegates he wanted to hear from social entrepreneurs about how his department could help social enterprises.

He said social enterprise was sometimes "difficult for us who deal with policy to get our heads around because there are so many different legal forms".

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