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Francis Maude sees Big Society in action

Francis Maude visits Surrey hospital; Crown copyright29 September 2010

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude has visited a groundbreaking social enterprise at Leatherhead Community Hospital in Surrey.

The hospital, run by Central Surrey Health, is owned by the nurses and therapists who work within it since its formation in 2006. Its employee-led reforms have created significant efficiencies, and Central Surrey Health has now joined other experts in employee ownership to mentor the next generation of fledgling public sector spin-offs as part of the Government’s Pathfinder mutuals initiative.

Mr Maude praised the not-for profit organisation’s Big Society ethos.

He said:

Central Surrey Health is owned by the nurses and therapists who work with patients every day. They are the experts who know what their patients want and they’ve shown that they can do a better job if they have the power to drive changes.

“The Coalition Government’s vision for a Big Society is about taking power away from bureaucrats and supporting people on the ground to get on with the job. There are thousands of front-line public sector staff who can see how to do things better. I think this can become a real mass movement that will result in better services at less cost."

“We all know there’s less money to go round these days but staff at Central Surrey Health show that more can be done for less.”

Mr Maude saw some of the community health services in action. He stopped by a physiotherapy class in the hospital gym and heard how innovative employees have reduced waiting times and increased the numbers of patients seen. He also saw a Community Assessment Unit where nurses do blood tests, x-rays and other checks without the need for people to be admitted to hospital. This has helped Central Surrey Health to reduce the number of A&E admissions to the local acute hospital. Central Surrey Health has also managed to increase occupancy in its community hospital beds to 95% and to reduce length of patients stay.

Jo Pritchard, joint MD at Central Surrey Health, said:

Being employee-owned means we can do things differently – for our patients, our Co-owners and those who fund our contracts. Our clinicians are the people closest to our patient: by giving them the power to change how their services are run, we’re seeing real innovation, which in turn is bringing about real improvements in efficiency. We’re living proof that it is possible to maintain and improve public services for less.

Following the visit to services the Minister met with employee representatives to hear about their experiences and discussed challenges and opportunities for mutual models in public services with Central Surrey Health board members.

All the mentors supporting the Pathfinder mutuals have offered their support for free. As well as Central Surrey Health, John Lewis Partnership, PWC, KPMG, Tribal, Baxi Partnership, Care and Share Associates, Sunderland Home Care Associates, Local Partnerships, Godrevy, GLL (Greenwich Leisure), and The Office for Public Management will also be providing mentors.  Other leading lights in this field, like Lord Victor Adebowale of Turning Point have also offered support.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Pathfinder scheme is part of the Government’s commitment to support the innovation and entrepreneurialism of front line staff. Twelve public service spin-offs are acting as trailblazers for the rest of the public sector. They will help determine what type of support and structures will best enable the development of employee-led mutuals. For further information, read: Francis Maude Launches Pathfinder Mutuals.
  2. Central Surrey Health was established from the provider arm of the former East Elmbridge and Mid Surrey Primary Care Trust on 1 October 2006. For Further information on Central Surrey Health, please contact communications manager Rebecca Jones on 020 8394 3843/46 or 07983 405 199, or visit the Central Surrey Health website [external website].
  3. For Cabinet Office press office contact details, visit the press office page.
  4. Photos are available from the press office.
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