SEUK is pleased to see the Ministerial Statement advising of the additional funding for those social enterprises who both deliver NHS services and who adhere to the Agenda for Change contract, after months of uncertainty for frontline staff. We appreciate the response of the Secretary of State for Health to the concerns raised and that the role of social enterprises within the NHS family has been acknowledged.
Whilst these developments are most welcome, it is disappointing that it reached this stage.
The majority of the social enterprises involved are delivering vital community health services across England and do this whilst remaining financial sustainable. They play a vital role in the NHS – keeping people healthy in their homes and communities and easing pressure on hospitals. They are delivering on the ambition behind the 5 Year Forward View.
There are over 16,000 people working at social enterprises in the health sector -thousands of nurses, physiotherapists and health care assistants who are employed on the same terms and conditions under Agenda for Change as those in NHS Trusts. They are part of entrepreneurial organisations but appear as if NHS staff. However, instead of celebrating what they initially believed to be a well-deserved and hard-earned pay rise they were met with uncertainty as to its funding and therefore the potential threat that the organisations they work for may be forced to shut down. With so much pressure on services and significant vacancies across the board, this is not the time to upset and destabilise our workforce.
It is down to the hard work of Social Enterprise UK’s members and team, working together in a co-ordinated campaign, that the funding shortfall was bought to the attention of decision makers and the initial position excluding those staff working for social enterprises from the pay deal was overturned. It is a credit to our members that they refused to back down and continued to make the case for NHS equal pay. It is an effort that has paid off.
Peter Holbrook – Chief Executive, Social Enterprise UK