Friday, 27 June 2008

Bad " Times " , the NHS and Edinburgh

On my way to Edinburgh, where I have a meeting with Royal Bank of Scotland at their brand new HQ. RBS are strategic partners with acevo and they have been great supporters. We are in discussion on developing leadership support across the third and private sectors.

I'm a great believer in learning across borders, whether that is the artificial borders that are thought to exist between leadership in our sector and commerce or whether across national borders.

Sometimes people in commerce think that those poor lot in charities need lessons in leadership, as we are sweet but clueless. In fact I find that we can often give them a lesson or 10 in how to motivate staff and volunteers , how to manage multiple stake holders and work with governments and in politics. They in turn can help us develop business process and help us build capacity.

Yesterday evening turned out to be fun! I was about to leave for the Gym. Early as it happens. so I could get home for the Archers. Then we get a call from No 10 saying they want to brief me on the forthcoming Darzai Report (to be launched on Monday).

Darzai has been looking at reform of the NHS. I had arranged a private dinner for some of our top health CEO members with the key No 10 advisor on health so he could hear views from the sector. It was a great evening with people like Victor Adebowale Telling them how it is on the ground. A key issue they rammed home time and again was how problematic it was to expand service delivery when we just can't pay public sector pensions

So I was delighted that when I finally got the call I was told a key recommendation the Government will accept is on pensions

The proposals are radical. They envisage PCTs handing over much of the delivery to third sector organisations. Staff in PCT delivery will have the right to set up independently as third sector bodies. And if staff transfer from the NHS they will remain in the NHS pension scheme. PCTs will be the commissioners of services but not bogged down in delivery which is so often better provided in our sector.

Apparently GB has been telling the press that he thinks we have not yet realised the full potential of the sector. They also envisage a bigger role for us in prevention and support for long term chronic conditions. They want to extend individual budgets and personalised serves and choice. If they carry a third of it through its a radical programme. But will the rhetoric be matched by reality.? Will the state establishment, so good at crushing reform move in to stifle change? Will the entrenched health professionals, the reactionary BMA try and stifle this ?

I am pleased as I have long advocated a major move of service delivery into our sector. I have hassled and cajoled government - with Blair and then Brown. I believe that in health we have much to offer. More than the private sector who do not carry public confidence or have our links. With patients and citizens.

So I quickly prepare An email of breaking news for my members and go home.

The Times carried a story on Tuesday that suggested my friend James Purnell was going to hand over large welfare to work contracts to the private sector. They completely ignored the fact that he has set up a task force to look at expanding the third sector's role. So a correction is clearly needed. I prepare an erudite and informative letter to the Editor. It goes off and for 2 days I have been waiting for it to appear. But no such luck. The Times has so clearly deteriorated in quality. The letters page was once a source of informed opinion. Its now gone downhill. Pop type letters and things you might read in "Hello". Putting right inaccurate reporting or aiming to advance the public policy debate is perhaps no longer their bag? Shame on them.

So I am publishing it here in my blog!!!

27 June 2008

Dear Sir

You report today (25 June) states that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions wants to encourage the private sector to run contracts for employment services. You don't report that he also sees the third sector (charities and social enterprises) playing a much bigger role as well. That was why he and I agreed two weeks ago to establish a taskforce, reporting in January 2009, to look at how the third sector can play an expanded role in providing employment and training to move people from benefits to work. In Australia, around 50% of welfare to work services for the long-term unemployed are provided by the third sector, and there’s no reason why we couldn’t have this level in the UK - which could mean up to £500m of contracts for the sector.

The role of the private sector may well be limited, as only third sector bodies can get to grips with the problems faced by the many on benefits; who face multiple challenges ranging from mental health to disability.

Yours faithfully

Stephen Bubb
Chief Executive

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