Spectrum has broad reach in health sector

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SPECTRUM Community Health, one of the first social enterprises to spin out from NHS Wakefield District, is focusing on “consolidating” and “future-proofing” its business for 2012.

The team provides advice, care and treatment for substance and alcohol misuse and sexual health, as well as health and wellbeing services to local prisons, including HMP and Young Offenders Institute (YOI) New Hall and HMP Wakefield.

The business, which is a limited company and has a head count of 170, having taken on 10 new staff in eight months, is for community benefit and is not-for-profit. So all profits are re-invested into the services it provides.

Its turnover is now just over £8.4m, having generated £400,000 of new business since it became an independent social business in April.

Linda Harris, chief executive and former GP, told the Yorkshire Post the new social enterprise model has allowed them to be “free from some of the NHS bureaucracy”. Sharon Hardcastle, director of finance and resources, added: “Being a smaller organisation has advantages. We are a lot leaner. Our management structure is extremely flat. We have heads of services who are clinicians and take case loads which you would not have in the NHS.”

Spectrum’s journey to social enterprise started two years ago when nationally all Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) were asked to make their community services an arms length organisation.

The Department of Health provided clinical staff with the opportunity to request to deliver services through a social enterprise model, under an initiative called Right to Request.

Spectrum Community Health Community Interest Company (CIC) was awarded a three-year contract to provide these services.

At Spectrum, employees all own a share of the company. By means of a Council of Shareholders (COS), employees can influence strategy as there are nine staff elected to represent the workforce to the board.

This year, NHS Wakefield District awarded Spectrum with a contract to deliver specialist elements of sex and relationship education to schools throughout the Wakefield district.

Dr Harris said: “The sex and relationship education programme is the first of its kind to be delivered by an external agency within the Wakefield district and follows on from work previously provided by NHS Wakefield District and Wakefield Council.

“It is also the first time locally that integrated lesson plans, for those aged between 13-16, have been designed to include a clear link between drugs, alcohol and sexual health.”

Spectrum Community Health has also recently unveiled SpectrumPeople, which encourages volunteers to get involved.

Looking ahead, Dr Harris said: “2012 is about consolidating and future proofing our business. We will support this through delivering an excellent, quality service on existing contracts while focusing on increasing our case management, looking beyond existing business and bidding for contracts that are aligned with Spectrum’s core strengths and values.”

Dr Harris said that as part of a review the business will look at where efficiencies can be made.

She added that the company was going through the process of tendering for new business, adding: “There’s a measured growth strategy. As a new business we need to build a strong record, we need to make sure we don’t grow too quickly and take our eyes off the ball.”

suzan.uzel@ypn.co.uk