A community nursing social enterprise for the NHS in Surrey has become the first winner of the Big Society Awards.
In an effort to increase public understanding of his “Big Society” idea, prime minister David Cameron is offering awards for the best examples of the initiative in action around the country.
The prime minister said he hopes the prospect of winning will help people “get involved and drive change” in their communities.
The first winner has been named as social enterprise Central Surrey Health, which was launched by former primary care trust directors Tricia McGregor and Jo Pritchard.
In 2006, 650 nurses and therapists in Surrey took a £1 not-for-profit share in the business, formally quit direct NHS employment and sold back their skills as district nurses, health visitors and therapists in a mutually owned social enterprise.
They received an initial three-year rolling contract worth £20m a year from their local primary care trust, and staff remained part of the NHS pension scheme and on the same terms and conditions.
Ms McGregor and Ms Pritchard explained that the change to co-ownership caused a “can-do” attitude among staff, that “put nurses and therapists back in control”.
Mr Cameron said Central Surrey Health was “an excellent example” of the type of initiative he wanted to encourage.