Notes from the field of public involvement

Tuesday, 31 October 2006

Heading down the yellow brick road to a social enterprise future

The question posed to the capacity audience earlier this month was "Social Enterprise - is this your solution?" As the event was sold out three times over when they stopped counting, the answer from the mainly health and social care managers present was "Well, it might be but we need to know lots more about it". Fair comment, given the less than balanced relationship which has usually existed between statutory health and care bodies and the providers they contract with in the 3rd sector.

An exhortation from Ms Hewitt
Patricia Hewitt's keynote exhortation said that sort of relationship had to change to a fair and open one and Government's role was to see to it that this happened. So she turned her spotlight on the 3rd Sector exemplars of innovation and joined-up working – step forward please!

Declog your system now for that funding flow
And there would be more Ms Hewitt promised, through the Social Enterprise Fund, £1m of which would be released early for pathfinder development. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLoG) was going to declog the system and get funding streams in place that communities wanted and needed. That acronym sounds so much more useful than "ODPM", which is what the sign out front read when John Prescott was in residence there.

Meeting old friends
And it was great to run into some old friends. Lance Gardner, still carrying the pioneer maverick's standard for doing things differently and better from his base as Projects Director at North East Lincolnshire PCT, was there to inspire us with new ways to provide community services (www.networks.nhs.uk/uploads/06/10/lancegardner_am.ppt) And Bob Sang now has a suitable honorific to go with his great experience of all this - the Professor of Patient and Public Involvement, London South Bank University.

Encountering old fears - "but what about the risks?"
Rousing stuff all round and just what the audience came to hear. Delivery will be harder I suspect, especially if PCT commissioners aren't convinced by the economics or the governance look of the potential new providers. My fellow workshop participants, mainly from Northern PCTs, were mightily interested in risk issues, namely who shoulders them when working with social enterprises and what might happen if a social enterprise partner was unable to deliver on a commissioned service?  The presentation by Cliff Mills from Cobbetts and  and Chris Brophy from Capsticks didn't pretend to have all the answers, but they made a good place to start working it out.

Spotting our Andrew Craig in the front row - thanks to NHS Networks
Full marks to NHS Networks for taking the lead in getting this conference off the ground and for providing an excellent  home for the presentations and workshop outputs. Click on the pictures and in the last one you can just make me out, down in front listening intently to Ms Hewitt. Also see the NHS Networks page on social enterprise and more social enterprise documentation - www.networks.nhs.uk/186.php

The Moore Adamson Craig Partnership Contribution
If you can't make me out clearly enough, there is a bigger picture of me on our website. There also you will find information about the services we can put at the disposal of social enterprise entrepreneurs - my paper on new business structures (Adobe PDF) will give an overview of the possibilities, our new work with John Carver's Policy Governance® offers an effective approach to running such organisations and our core commitment to users and consumers will help you create an organisation that is focused on its users. (See our archive of back numbers of PPI Monitor http://www.mooreadamsoncraig.co.uk/ppi-monitor-archive.htm )

Policy Governance® - Breaking News: Watch this space for more news of our PG half-day workshops on the 4th and repeated on the 6th December introducing this new approach to UK organisations. Email for more information.

Andrew Craig | (Problem occured connecting to database: The server requested authentication method unknown to the client