The Health and Care Forum, to be launched by parliamentary under secretary of state for care services Ivan Lewis on Wednesday, is aimed at helping members share resources and good practice, target receptive commissioners and use their collective weight to lobby on behalf of the sector.
It also hopes to act as a point for inquiries about social enterprises working in the health sector.
“The forum will allow members to stop being passive and instead identify and target the Primary Care Trust’s and practice-based commissioners who are aware of the potential of social enterprise and are ready to do business,” said the Social Enterprise Coalition’s health expert, Julie Dent.
Members will also be able to create consortia to bid for work. “They will work together to accelerate the transformation of public services,” said Dent. “The climate is right to grow this sector and to influence Government policy on public services.”
Ivan Lewis said he thought the forum would also be an important source of knowledge for the Department of Health. “It will create a valuable link between the department and the many exciting social enterprises working in health and social care," he said.
Membership will also be open to charities bidding for public sector contracts and Department of Health pathfinder organisations.
Emma Wilson, chief executive of out-of-hours healthcare provider Local Care Direct, has been nominated as chair by the sixty members already signed up. She said: “We have done the talking, we have sold the sector to the Government and policy makers in the Department of Health and it’s now time for us to show the market what social enterprise can really deliver.”