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South West social enterprise staff face transfer next month

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A second social enterprise in the South West is to be wound down and its staff expected to be transferred to neighbouring providers next month, after it lost its main contract to an NHS trust.

The Care and Support Partnership Community Interest Company – which trades under the name SEQOL – was set up in 2011 to run adult community services in Swindon under the government’s Transforming Community Services programme, when primary care trusts were forced to offload their provider arms.

“After the smooth and safe transfer of services and employees the company will close”

Heather Mitchell

However, it will close next month when most of its services are transferred to Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

SEQOL will be the second South West social enterprise to be wound down this year, following the dissolution of Peninsula Community Health in April after the organisation became financially unsustainable.

SEQOL’s future has been in question since its commissioners, Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group and Swindon Borough Council, gave notice on the enterprise’s adult community services contract in February, citing a changed policy landscape and concerns with its operational and financial performance.

In August, the commissioners announced that the contract would go to Great Western Hospitals, which was set to begin delivering the services in February 2017.

However, earlier this week Swindon CCG said the services would now be transferred on 1 October, after SEQOL requested the process be completed early “due to their challenging financial position and workforce challenges”.

SEQOL chief executive Heather Mitchell said: “I’m very proud of how my team has delivered community health and social care services across Swindon for the past five years.

“SEQOL’s financial position has also become more challenging since we formed in 2011, which is also true of similar organisations delivering health and social care services across the country,” she said.

“This national financial position has made it clear recently that larger organisations are better placed to meet the growing cost efficiencies that are being required,” she added.

Ms Mitchell said SEQOL had requested to terminate the contract early to relieve “some of our financial challenges” and to avoid an “unwanted knock-on effect to the care of people across Swindon” by transferring the services during the busy winter period.

She added: “SEQOL can’t continue to trade without these services and the workforce, so after the smooth and safe transfer of services and employees the company will close.”

While most services will go to Great Western Hospitals, a few services – including two care homes – will be transferred to Swindon Borough Council.

Swindon CCG said: “SEQOL staff have been committed to implementing the quality improvements and they are passionate about the care they deliver to the health community of Swindon.

“Patients and service users can be reassured that the continuity of care will be maintained during this transition period,” said the commissioner.

Great Western Hospitals said it was “committed to ensuring patients continue to receive community healthcare from the same familiar faces, while welcoming and supporting many dedicated staff through this time of change”.

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