A year ago, City Health Care Partnership became the first social enterprise to ‘go live’ through the right-to-request scheme. On its first anniversary, chief executive Andrew Burnell reports on how they are getting on.

It has been 12 months since City Health Care Partnership became the first right-to-request primary care trust provider service to become an independent, not-for-profit community interest company.

For such a short period in business, our profitability appears to be fine – a key factor for continued trading and a position commissioners old and new will hopefully appreciate as we move towards more plurality and competition in healthcare.

Profitability out of health is a combination some just can’t stomach. From a personal perspective, it is not a dirty concept. Surely it is what you do with that profit that should be counted, considered by commissioners and, most of all, understood and supported by the current policies from the Health Bill through to the right to provide for the public sector.

As a community interest company, our objectives are clear. Our intentions have been measured and show how we can aid the wider wellbeing of our business catchment area – a help maybe to the Big Society/civil society debate. To my mind, why would you want anything else in your area, especially in a place such as Hull, which needs such an inward focus?

It is our staff who have delivered the success of the past year – they are the centre of our core values and beliefs. To chart just some outcomes, as of April this year, together we have accomplished:

  • achievement against 96 per cent of the commissioning for quality and innovation targets in 2010-11;
  • 85 per cent of our patients and service users rate the service as either excellent or very good, and 80 per cent would recommend our services to a friend or colleague;
  • 95.3 per cent gain access to a genito-urinary medicine clinic within 48 hours of contacting a service. The target is 90 per cent;
  • implementation of the small grants programme, with £24,000 of grants awarded to 36 grass roots community organisations across Hull and the East Riding areas. Social accounts demonstrated approximately £106,000 added value back into the community within an initial six months of trading;
  • have often thought that for an organisation that cares for people, the NHS can, at certain levels, be extremely callous and unfeeling towards the people it relies on to maintain its world class and envied status.

Staff engagement and the commitment shown by the majority to embrace the changes we are having to deliver is critical. They must see the importance of working more effectively and efficiently. This led to the Moving Forward – Securing Our Future change process, 12 internal lean champions drawn from all areas of our business, a willingness to allow risk and support failure in change and, importantly, the drive to facilitate the changes and sustain the improvements.

I was blown away by the first value stream outcome group I was invited to – the redesigned HR process and focused desire of our staff to maintain and grow talent, while supportively facilitating a more expedient mechanism for those who might be struggling, was challenging but brilliant. They felt it improved the current system by up to 65 per cent in terms of reducing waste.

This new approach, linked to developing the Flextra reward package, will hopefully deliver a competitive set of options for existing and new staff while delivering cost efficiencies 
as a company.

Having achieved Investor in People status, our staff feedback shows:

  • 88 per cent agreed City Health Care Partnership CIC is committed to their learning, training and development;
  • 79 per cent agreed the partnership takes a positive interest in the health and wellbeing of its employees;
  • 73 per cent would recommend it as a place to work;
  • 85 per cent said colleagues treat them with respect.

Staff are our biggest expense and our biggest asset. They will make or break our dreams. Keeping everyone on the same bus remains a key challenge. To all of them, thank you.