East Coast Community Healthcare CIC (ECCH) is a staff owned Social Enterprise, providing community based NHS and social care chiefly in Great Yarmouth & Waveney.
Our services include district nursing, health visiting, community in-patient services, physiotherapy, speech & language therapy, occupational therapy, specialist nursing care, palliative care, a primary care centre, breastfeeding support, contraceptive and sexual health services, school nursing (waveney area only) and public health services.
We have contracts with the NHS and two County Councils. At least 70,000 people are registered as service users with ECCH. That’s one third of the population of the area we serve.
Why did ECCH become a social enterprise?
We were part of the local NHS Primary Care Trust. We applied to become a social enterprise so that we could take charge of our own destiny and make real improvements in services to patients. It was widely recognised at the time of our spin-out that the social enterprise model would offer us the opportunity to create a more sustainable and flexible organisation. We are a ‘human’ organisation in every way, most of our funds are spent on staff to care for people and we have an ethos of high quality care, every time.
Why does being a social enterprise make a difference?
The difference is that staff have a stake – and therefore a real say – in how the organisation works. Social enterprises offer staff a new sense of belonging. They can even become a Staff Director and sit on the Board, if they’re elected by their colleagues.
One of the current Staff Directors is Teresa Gooch, a senior physiotherapist: "The social enterprise model fits perfectly,” she said.
“We are passionate about the care and services we provide but an important difference is that clinicians can influence the strategic direction we take is in the very best interests of patients and clients.
“There is an energy and buzz about ECCH which makes it truly outstanding.”
Recognition for ECCH
In 2013, ECCH was “Highly Commended” in a national competition to find the “Public Sector Mutual of the Year” – the Philip Baxendale Awards.
Afterwards, the Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude wrote congratulating ECCH for the “significant improvements to community healthcare provision since its transfer to an employee owned social enterprise in October 2011.
Mr Maude said in his letter: “ECCH has made positive changes to the healthcare services provided to local citizens in Great Yarmouth and Waveney.”
Strong performance as a social enterprise
In our first year turnover was £38.1m and profit was £714,000, 40% ahead of plan. We have invested over £100,000 in information technology, which improves efficiency and flexibly for the benefit of patients. Through operational efficiencies and improved sub-contracting we reduced corporate expenditure by nearly £185,000. The reduction in staff sickness levels equates to a saving of approximately £250,000 and gives better continuity of care as a result.
Over 40% of staff are shareholders - well above average for a social enterprise. We established “The Hub” which holds regular meetings for shareholders to aid communication and future growth. Two Staff Directors, elected by shareholders, sit on the Board. Shareholders played a full role in the appointment of the Chair and Non-Executive Directors, playing an integral role ‘from the ground up’ in the continuing direction of the business. Shareholders are regularly consulted.
Achievements as a social enterprise
- East Coast Community Healthcare gave itself four years to achieve a long list of milestones such as implement mobile IT for over 350 staff, create a more integrated approach to improve care for patients, work with our acute hospital and primary care colleagues reduce length of hospital stays, reduce staff sickness… all these we achieved in the first 12 months. We have increased staffing and also reduced overheads to increase spend on services.
- ECCH has received excellent reports following inspections of its four community hospitals, district nursing service, contraceptive and sexual health clinics and GP Practice by the Care Quality Commission.
- We want our patients to have a ‘one-stop shop’ for care: We’ve just been commissioned to run a new Out of Hospital team of nurses, therapists and care workers to serve the Lowestoft area. We’re now recruiting the team. This is part of our partnership working to integrate NHS and social care services to benefit patients – we’re creating multi-disciplinary teams working with partners elsewhere in the NHS and social care.
- We extended our district nursing service to cover twilight hours and we are now working with staff to provide a resilient 24/7 service to patients.
- The government made us an “Early Implementer Site” for Health Visiting – actively supporting mums during pregnancy and for two years after their child is born.
- Our Family Nurse Partnership programme – supporting teenaged parents – is nationally recognised.
- Our breastfeeding team has just won the highest recognition from UNICEF, achieving Level 3 of its ‘baby friendly’ initiative. The team has just launched an App to support mums and dads and has launched a successful peer support team.
- We introduced the “Friends and Family Test” in our four community hospitals: No less than 80% of those surveyed said they would either be likely or extremely likely to recommend the care they received. For eleven of those months, the figure was well over 90% of patients.