Enterprising Solutions for the NHS

The Big Life Group

Fay Selvan Chief Executive of the Big Life Group Liverpool 3/2/06

Just give you a quick overview of our activities

Issues – not a partnership – it is a group – benefit of group and brand value – control

Definition of a social business can be very broad – does not distribute profits, has social aim, acts in a business like way – different organisational forms. Lot of debate – Co-ops, BUPA. Herein lies a problem – I think social business has to have added value – not just a particular org form or not for profit distribution.

Today going to talk about one example of our work – which I think demonstrates how social business can offer added value to the NHS. In particular it can contribute to the health inequalities agenda

The Big Life Group

Big Life Group – group of social businesses and charities

Working together to help people who have had Raw Deal in life to change their lives

And change the world while we are at it.

Have wide range of activities

Kath Locke Centre in Moss Side Manchester

Winning the contract – Bid against 4 NHS trusts with turnovers of £60m each – we had 250k p.a. It was a key stage in the development of the Big Life group – now one of the largest social businesses in the country with 200 plus staff, 8m turnover, 5 social businesses and two charities.

We had no track record of owning buildings or of running health facilities. Didn’t know what an autoclave was – let alone how to maintain one. But always knew we could find someone who did!

But we did have a track record in :

  • Engaging people who are hard to reach
  • Helping people to help themselves
  • Being seen as part of the community

Of course long before CPLNHS and this week’s white paper – policy drivers towards plurality in the market place

Health Authority at the time was very forward thinking and took a real risk in awarding us this contract

KLC has been open for ten years now – V Successful Services are provided by ourselves, the PCT, Local Authority, Mental Health Trust and range of voluntary sector providers

Kath Locke reception

So what difference has it made?

Local employment – 77% of our staff at KLC live locally

Staff diversity

Environment – welcoming – hotel style, no barriers, no vandalsim/burglaries

All this helps make our services be accessible to local people….Because when we opened Moss Side was a very different area to how it is now…

Moss Side – or Gunchester?

Most public sector buildings were like forts – aimed to lock people out – or into little confined spaces. Some services were not available in the area because of its reputation – BREAST SCREENING VAN hadn’t ben to Moss Side for ten years

The Sugar Group

More than that

This is the Sugar group – formed by West Indian ladies with diabetes and run by them.

We also developed a Dental service

We have also worked to influence the statutory sector services in the centre – Mental Health Team

PCT community involvement stragegy – Local Area groups


The Kath Locke Centre Cafe
Massage session

KLC is patient choice – Choice of counsellor – ethnicity, gender. Helping people find their own solutions – healthy living projects and self help groups. This is the way forward for the NHS

Choice research – four factors – clinical quality, location, amenities – but also social interaction – how you are treated when you get there.

Was PCT chair – not taken on a small old DGH – we have a lot to learn about attracting patients if we are going to survive in the world of PbR

I personally don’t believe that it would make a great deal of difference transferring whole sections of the NHS and replicating what they provide for everybody in a co-op – but do think that the opportunity for engaging social enterprises in the NHS as a way of meeting the needs of marginalised communities and tackling health inequalities – a regeneration agenda

Moss Side Carnival

But if this is going to be a reality then we need to change some things

  • Social enterprises like ours delivering NHS services need to be seen as part of the NHS – just like GPs
  • Need to develop commissioning – so not just large international companies getting opportunities – but smaller local agencies like ourselves
  • Superannuation and being part of the NHS family
  • National policy intitiatives like LIFT
  • Power relationship needs to be acknowledged – payments, contracts etc.

Overall, exciting time of change and opportunity. Best scenario – organisations like ours can take up opportunities. Or status quo – lot of organisational change – but little change in the way services delivered. Worst case – new private sector providers sweep up the opportunities and the better off areas benefit most – with widening gap of inequality

Me I’m an optimist – but it is down to us to make it happen.