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Lansley to outline 'right to provide'

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NHS staff across the health service are to be given the right to set up their own organisations to provide and manage care for patients, health secretary Andrew Lansley has said.

The Department of Health is the first Whitehall ministry to implement the government’s “right to provide” scheme which will allow workers throughout the public sector to form employee-led mutuals to deliver services.

Ministers believe that the move will unleash ideas and innovation that have previously been stifled by public sector bureaucracy, improving services and extending choice.

As social enterprises, mutuals formed under the scheme will have the duty to reinvest any profit into the community.

Services including alcohol and drug detox, mental health, sexual health and support for people with eating disorders are expected to transfer out of the NHS under the initiative.

Mr Lansley will outline how the move will work when he addresses the Social Enterprise Coalition’s Voice 11 conference at the O2 in east London.

Speaking ahead of the conference, he said: “We want to modernise the NHS to make it more responsive to patients, not top-down controls.

“Arbitrary rules and central targets stifle the energy and ambition that all health professionals need to improve patient care.

“That’s why we’re giving staff greater control of their organisations.

“By handing responsibility and power to the frontline, a variety of services will develop, which in turn will give patients a real choice about the kind of care they want to receive.”

Shadow health secretary John Healey warned that the government’s policies would bring “the ethics of the free market” into the NHS.

Mr Healey said: “The mutual movement is based on an ethic of co-operation, and Labour already introduced a right to request to form a social enterprise in the NHS.

“But what the Tory-led government has planned for the NHS is based fundamentally on the ethics of the free market.”

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  • 10 Comments

Readers' comments (10)

  • Roll up, roll up!!

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  • are nurses allowed to set up their own practices in the UK as in Europe either as a group or alone. You never hear of this. If you want you own premises it could be costly but then their should be government subsidies if this is what they plan for the future. If you worked from home doing outside visits in the community then there would be fewer overheads.

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  • As much as I disagree with 99% of what Lansley says, I think this is an area Nurses could really move into and flourish, given the right opportunities and circumstances, and given of course that Nurses actually take the initiative and take the opportunity (a trait our profession has not been historically well known for!)

    Imagine for example a set up similar to a walk in centre, privately owned, run and staffed by Nurses, as an alternative to a GP surgery and a minor injuries unit rolled into one. We could privately bill the NHS or the government direct for our services, much the same way a GP does now.

    Or perhaps a private community Nurse team, taking on the workload of overstretched NHS community Nurses and again billing the NHS or the government directly for each patient treated?

    There are many more services Nurses provide (as outlined in the article) that can be set up as private businesses.

    I admit the ideas are only basic and need a lot of planning, but it could be the future of our profession?

    What is needed I think is concrete, set in stone help for those wishing to set up such private enterprises, and specific guidelines/budgets on who to bill for our services?

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  • Some good ideas, problem being Drs have the GMC, we have the NMC

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  • I would argue for entrepreneurship within the public service ball park instead of playing monopoly with healthcare and creation of incentive from within. In that way service remains priority not second to income generation or price competition. I also agree with above that the NMC is not the GMC or anything close.

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  • Anonymous | 31-Mar-2011 2:11 pm, I understand what you mean about healthcare not coming second to profit, and I absolutely agree. However I think there is a feasible way that Nurses can for all intent and purposes go into business for themselves without doing so, as I said earlier billing the NHS or the government directly for services provided for example (much in the way GP's do) would ensure that care remains free at the point of delivery.

    Oh, and I also agree the NMC isn't worth the paper they stamp their (probably expensive) branding on. Time for a new regulatory body I think, one that is there to protect NURSES and fight for our profession.

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  • Nursing needs an effective and up to date regulatory body to both protect the public from malpractice and support nurses in the job they do.

    They need to be open and transparent and publish the work they do and their role needs to extend beyond just collecting expensive fees from nurses who require registration and logging the data of those who have paid them, publishing guidelines which are not distributed to all nurses, producing a new subscription magazine which is only available to nurses in the UK, despite the interest of those overseas who pay the same fees, maintaining expensive buildings and disciplining some of the nurses reported to them.

    A phone advisory service which can respond to registry and other nursing related queries more effectively would also be of help.

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  • Anonymous | 31-Mar-2011 3:09 pm, although it is going off topic a bit, I have to say that I think that the public has enough protection already, any regulatory body should protect NURSES and promote and fight for our profession!

    Back on topic, here's another quick business idea for Nurses, since Doctors charge £10 to put their bloody signature on anything from provisional license applications to Passport applications etc, why don't we undercut them and make it well known that Nurses will only charge a fiver! Ha!! Just a thought?

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  • Hi Mike

    I am not suggesting that the public need any greater protection than they already have just an efficient and up to date regulatory body which performs both functions effectively or even two separate bodies if necc., one for the protection of patients and one to support nurses in their work and protect them from unreasonable and invalid complaints.

    haven't time to put it more succinctly that this at the moment but don't think NMC give much value for the fees we pay,.

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  • mike | 31-Mar-2011 2:49 pm
    Hi Mike, thing is it sounds very sensible and a good idea what you suggest in some ways and is happening already in the community services and out of hours service. Its fraught with difficulties though. services have very limited contracts which are bid on for price. changing the service providers causes lack of continuiy of service rather than seamless handover. Patients don't know who to call, notes and computer systems don't match, patients don't call until it is an unnecessary emergency because they don't want to waste resources, staff have no continuity of team, terms and conditions of contract are dangling, terms and conditions of providing said service are fluid, by the time the service has bedded in its time to bid again and everyone is continually up in the air working around the tendering process rather than a consistent quality of care.
    Apologies if I rant here or shoot you down but my experience doesn't match how the idea sounds.

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