STRUCTURE: A social enterprise established to provide community services in Cornwall could be taken back into the NHS after experiencing financial difficulties.

Peninsula Community Health, a non-profit company which runs 14 community hospitals, has announced plans to explore integrating its services with Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust.

The two organisations said in a joint statement last month that they had commissioned a study to examine the benefits of working closer together.

“If the study establishes patient benefits, both organisations could look to working together and help provide a stronger more resilient single organisation”, it added.

Both organisations said that financial pressures and the need to secure sustainable futures as the motivations behind the integration.

Steve Jenkin, chief executive of Peninsula Community Health’s said: “I think it’s fair to say in Cornwall there are financial challenges at this moment in time for all providers.”

He added that the integration project would examine how back office functions like IT and procurment could be rationalised as well as some clinical work.

Phil Confue, chief executive of Cornwall Partnership said the study would consider “different organisational forms”.

The £87m-turnover Peninsula Community Health was created by NHS staff in 2011 to take over a number of community services from NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Primary Care Trust as part of the Transforming Community Services initiative.

The announcement of the study was welcomed by local campaigners, who last week described the original decision to outsource the services as a “failed experiment”.   

Graham Webster, the deputy chair of Health Initiative Cornwall, a group campaigning for local services to remain within the NHS told HSJ: “I have always felt that over time costs would catch up with [Peninsula Community Health].”

The study is due to be presented to both organisations in October.