Commenting on the UNISON report Social Enterprises and the NHS: changing patterns of ownership and accountability published today, Jennifer Dixon, director of policy at the King's Fund, said:
'There is definitely a role for social enterprises to compete to provide care for NHS funded patients. Social enterprises have the potential to be entrepreneurial and innovative with a distinctive ethos. Social enterprises could increase the engagement of both service users and frontline staff in how services are run.
'However, there is no doubt that social enterprise is an attractive label that many new providers will want to claim and there is a need to be clearer about what the characteristics are. Social enterprises must have some social purpose at heart and should be reinvesting any financial surpluses to support that aim.
'To have a chance of success in providing care to NHS patients, social enterprises should be able to compete on a level playing field with other non-NHS organisations.
'Social enterprises are already playing an increasing role in delivering public services and have achieved some notable successes in areas such as end-of-life care.'
Notes to editors:
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