Plans to spin out health services into social enterprises could bring significant advantages to healthcare in the UK, but the new organisations will need more help to establish themselves in the market, according to a new report from UK health charity King’s Fund.
The report, published last week and called Social Enterprise in Healthcare, is based on interviews with 13 directors of health social enterprises and 14 chief executives of foundation trusts.
It says the benefits from spinning out include reduced bureaucracy, faster decision-making and the reinvestment of surpluses, which motivate staff because they allow organisations to benefit from generating efficiencies.
The report, written by Rachael Addicott, a senior research fellow at King’s Fund, also concludes that new social enterprises need high levels of legal, financial and technical support to grow.
It says that, most crucially, if the benefits of social enterprises are to be realised, they must be offered long-term contracts.
"It is vital that the government and Department of Health commit to a long-term support programme and commissioning strategy for emergent social enterprises," the report says.
It is crucial to engage staff at the outset, says the report, and to do this social enterprises need to be able to reassure staff concerned about changes in pay, conditions and pensions.