NHS Western Cheshire staff may launch the first commissioning support social enterprise.
Their plan is at an early stage but has secured some support from the Social Enterprise Investment Fund, which helps develop health and social care social enterprises. It is thought to be the most advanced attempt by a PCT to find a new home for its commissioning functions ahead of PCTs’ abolition in April 2013.
Directors at the PCT are working on a five-year business plan with the working title Health Business Services.
A report to the PCT’s board says its proposal has been “given added impetus” by the 2011-12 operating framework, published in December, “where it is recognised that in order to develop [consortia] it will also be necessary to develop an appropriate support infrastructure to enable them to take on their new responsibilities”.
Recent PCT board papers say services provided by the organisation would include “strategic planning”, involving workforce planning, “aligning strategies to changing financial circumstances”, and modelling and clinical risk stratification.
It would also offer designing and procuring services, market and asset management, finance services, programme management, knowledge management, contract management and IT.
The venture would “bring added value to the NHS”, which would include securing the “knowledge and expertise of highly regarded NHS professionals” for the health service and developing a “strategic partnership” with its customers, “thus ensuring maximum benefit is realised for the benefit of patients and taxpayers”.
A DH spokeswoman said: “The operating framework signalled [future] commissioning support services could be provided in a number of different ways including by social enterprises. Western Cheshire PCT… will test whether the service is viable as a social enterprise and can support GP consortia in the area.”