Minister praises hospital in 'Big Society' project
A CABINET minister praised the innovation and efficiency of health providers during a visit to Leatherhead Hospital.
Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, visited the hospital run by Central Surrey Health (CSH), which the Government has highlighted as an exemplar for its "Big Society" project.
The organisation, which also runs Dorking Hospital, formed in 2006 as a non-profit social enterprise owned by the nurses and therapists who run it, the first health service of its kind.
Mr Maude said: "They are the experts who know what their patients want and they've shown that they can do a better job if they have the power to drive changes."
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The minister was treated to a tour of the hospital's facilities, including a physiotherapy class and the community assessment unit, hailed in the Advertiser by health campaigners as "close to the ideal" in September.
Mr Maude said: "The Coalition Government's vision for a big society is about taking power away from bureaucrats and supporting people on the ground to get on with the job.
"There are thousands of frontline public sector staff who can see how to do things better.
"I think this can become a real mass movement that will result in better services at less cost."
Since its inception the provider has increased occupancy in its community hospital beds to 95 per cent as well as reducing the length of patients' stays.
Jo Pritchard, joint managing director at CSH, said: "Being employee-owned means we can do things differently – for our patients, our co-owners and those who fund our contracts.
"Our clinicians are the people closest to our patient.
"By giving them the power to change how their services are run, we are seeing real innovation, which in turn is bringing about real improvements in efficiency.
"We're living proof that it is possible to maintain and improve public services for less."