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Right to request



Practical Commissioning’s Jargon Buster explains the meaning of the term ‘Right to request’.

A commitment in the Next Stage Review that gives PCT staff, especially nurses and allied health professionals, the ability to put proposals for setting up social enterprises to PCT boards. The idea is that PCT provider arms will be taken over by companies that work for social or community benefit rather than primarily for profit. David Nicholson has stated the preferred provider approach will not affect the right to request, and detailed guidance will ensure social enterprises are not blocked.

In November, 20 new social enterprises developed under the right to request scheme were each awarded £30,000 funding from the Department of Health. They cover mental health services and schemes to help the homeless children and young people.

The path is far from straightforward, however. Unions are often hostile and last October Hull Teaching PCT was threatened with judicial review over plans to transfer provider services to a community interest company, City Health Care Partnership. Leading PBC GPs working on social enterprise policy fear, if vertical integration of acute and community trusts becomes widespread, this sector will be pushed aside.

The Department of Health social enterprise unit has been criticised for failing to engage clinicians and is accused of focusing on the existing social enterprise industry instead of NHS staff.

See www.dh.gov.uk/socialenterprise and www.dh.gov.uk/seif for more details.