What are the implications of being a ‘partner’ or ‘contractor’ in the delivery of church based health services funded by the public sector?

Laura_Jones_webPresented by Laura Jones, Eurodiaconia

Download the presentation: Partnerships and Procurement with Public Authorities

Eurodiaconia is based in Brussels and works across a number of European countries. No UK member in the network currently. Some members are organisations, some are churches. Membership is based on the historic Christian presence in countries.

It is involved in advocacy on justice, equality and solidarity. It also focuses on best practice in faith-based social care, and advocates to get its members’ issues on EU agenda. The theological concept of Diakonia guides its approach.

Emerging options available for financing health services include vouchers and personal budgets.

Tendering and Commissioning: Commissioners may not look for right thing or be able to judge quality and needs. Lowest cost is not always best.

Discussion

Subsidies and Grants: To what extent do these have to be put out to tender? Clinical services do not have to put out to tender, but this has yet to be tested against EU rules. What if it goes to tender and you have to compete with Virgin Care? It is challenging to tender for work and cover core costs. What about funding preventive care as opposed to curative care? How can local churches engage in this process?

What happens when systems change and funding changes? How to continue to deliver?

How much of the spiritual side of our work is sacrificed by funding being received from statutory services? How much can chaplaincy free float from NHS?

Until recently all services were provided by internal NHS providers. Now there is the issue of bidding for services. Small and medium sized groups face the reality that tenders are very bureaucratic.

What are the opportunities and obstacles for faith based not for profit organizations? A French example: smaller groups work together in a consortium. They divide up roles and support one another with procurement.

One of the problems with the community sector is that it does not work collaboratively. One tension is that  many smaller organisations are in touch with the marginalised but fear being swallowed by larger groups. Birmingham council aims to work with consortia.

In Germany there is healthy competition. There are capacity issues – how do you know how many spaces needed? More and more private providers. Some do loss leading to get into the market.

Community interest companies an option. Should Churches stay clear of this? Challenge of maintaining identity. Genuine employment criteria for Christian activity, especially in the field of healthcare

Where is prophetic voice? Avoiding, over-commitment. Show outcomes, added values, build capacity. We might work with other church groups but would we work with Virgin Care? Can you be objective of the services you provide?

NHS reforms offer a real opportunity

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