Trust Me I’m a Doctor

Posted: 09 May 2011, in Blog

Trust me I’m a Doctor

UK Minister Andrew Lansley is at it again. A recent wheeze is for GPs in England to become investors in a private health firm (IHP) and with a bit of good old fashioned jiggery pokery, profits from under spends in the health budgets end up in GP’s pockets. God knows what the Lib Dems are doing in this Coalition.

At the same time, a bunch of former NHS nursery workers in Edinburgh have responded to budget cuts and transformed their nursery service at the Royal Edinburgh into a workers co-op. They also took a hit in pay and conditions to get this service to be sustainable.  The Evening News described the business as a not for profit (NFP) organisation. I know a wee bit about co-ops and the only ones I know that work actually make profits – or they go under.  Some managers and directors of retail co-ops in particular are apt to go apoplectic if they are categorised as NFPs.

From Tory NHS “reforms” to worker entrepreneurs and the use of CIC models in England, the NHS is undergoing massive transformation. We will not be immune to these changes in Scotland – particularly if some of these new businesses decide to compete in Scotland within the health care market. Now I wonder what our Nicola thinks of all this? I don’t mean the knee jerk telly sound bite reaction. I mean the reaction of someone who has had a ministerial responsibility for health service reform (and may continue to do so since the recent election results).

It is all well and good saying that “profit before patients” will never happen here but in reality a whole raft of private companies and self employed entrepreneurs currently make money out of the NHS in Scotland.

So, what to do?

Here is a suggestion; let’s encourage health related social enterprises in Scotland to form new CICs. These CICs could attract investment and compete with the private sector for NHS contracts in Scotland AND England. You see, this market opportunity thing cuts both ways and what is stopping a Scottish CIC developing its business through English NHS contracts other than some sense of not wanting to be seen doing this. The analogy in my mind is that of RSLs. Several English RSLs are now operating in Scotland and guess what; the local authorities and Scottish RSLs are working with them. One good thing about markets is that they are brilliant at letting you know who is competing and winning. It is time for Scottish social (health) entrepreneurs to get their businesses in shape to compete or who knows an English CIC might end up providing your GP services.



NOTE: This blog does not necessarily reflect the views of the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition or endorse any political position.