VitalSpark: Coalition Blog

Posted: 16 July 2010, in Blog

“Don’t you know that you’re toxic? And I love what you do. Don’t you know that you’re toxic?”                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                   Britney Spears

The Tories have ‘fessed up. Their brand (at least in Scotland) is toxic. “..We’ll have to prove that we don’t eat babies to get people to vote for us …” seems to be the quote de jour amongst the party hierarchy. Do the Tories have a Scottish hierarchy anymore?

Political opponents are lapping this up but meanwhile over the border (where the Tories are not toxic), the NHS is to undergo a radical transformation. Thousands of jobs in PCTs and Trusts are going and GPs will hold the cash to commission patient care in hospitals and to be innovative in generating health solutions.

Back in La La land, our political establishment will have no truck with this but I wonder how long their intransigence or commitment to the status quo (lets be fair here) will hold out.  Is our politics rooted in the past and are our politicians, trade unions and civil servants fighting yesterday’s war?

For social enterprises, the switch in England to GPs holding commissioning budgets represents a step change in business opportunity. Health based interventions that can tackle a myriad range of socio-economic problems will be the new holy grail for the politicians and policy wonks down South.

 What this means in practice is that Social Prescribing has its moment to be the catch all solution beloved of politicians and policy planners. It is no such thing of course. However, given the Coalition’s interests in cutting welfare costs and “encouraging” people back to work (where’s the jobs I hear you cry), an upsurge in Social Prescribing might just be the tipping point for the development of new social enterprises.  

Bottom line for this is that there are few barriers to market entry and that to date there are few competitors who know what they are doing – although vol orgs will claim they’ve been doing this sort of “stuff” for years. You do require Doctors to “get it“ however and that may take a bit of time and advocacy.

Currently, there is no consensus on defining social prescribing  but “you’ll know it when you see it”.  It takes folk off drugs and gives them non clinical support to recover their lives.

Think of it as a way of helping the long term “cannae copers” – all those who languish at the bottom of every index for self esteem, health, lifestyle, educational opportunity, aspiration, economic activity and lack of creativity and personal responsibility. 

Now forgive me if I’m wrong but that sounds like a social enterprise opportunity to me. Check out