A GP practice in Bolton is hoping to break away from NHS management in a bid to save £300,000 a year.
Bolton Community Practice was formed in July after seven of the town’s existing surgeries merged. It has no practice boundaries in the area, and serves 17,000 patients.
Health chiefs have applied to become an employee-led “social enterprise” in the hope that patient care can be improved through reducing management costs and refocusing profits back into frontline services.
In a report delivered to the NHS Bolton board, Associate Director of Bolton Community Practice, Dr Anne Talbot, said: “The vision of Bolton Community Practice is to provide exemplary personalised care for all our registered population.
“Social enterprises are closely linked with NHS values and will empower staff to be further in control of the design and delivery of the care and services they provide. It will also ensure that the care and services we provide are better tailored to meet patients’ and service-users’ needs.”
The Manchester Evening News reports that initial costs for the venture will be £120,000, which will pay for legal fees, project management and staff and patient-engagement events.
But it is believed that the project will be covered under the government’s social enterprise investment fund rather than from NHS budgets.
Helen Clarke, Director of Integration and Nursing at NHS Bolton, told the trust’s monthly board meeting: “We see this as a way of improving services for patients by channelling all profits directly back into patient care.
“It also means there will be closer engagement with patients and service users, which will hopefully create a more flexible service tailored around the people receiving treatment. We must now wait until December for the group to provide a business model, which can be examined more closely before final approval is given.”
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“In common with many, they don’t understand the meaning of Social Enterprise. Any organisational structure can claim to be a social enterprise – it is what you do, not your structure that determines whether you are a social enterprise or not. There is no legal structure called Social Enterprise; they will still need to be a Practice, Ltd, LLP, etc” – Jo, Kent