GP out-of-hours group runs apprenticeships to help unemployed

A GP out-of-hours provider has started an apprenticeship scheme for local unemployed people as part of a drive to add social value to its work, in a move that could help it win more NHS contracts.

Apprenticeships: adding social value can help GP-led organisations win contracts

Urgent Care 24 (UC24) which runs GP out-of-hours and urgent care services in north west England, launched the programme in response to unemployment problems in the region.

Chairwoman Kate Lucy told GP the scheme was proving mutually beneficial to apprentices and the organisation.

UC24 is taking on long-term unemployed people for work placements, as well as recent graduates from the local Liverpool John Moores University who are struggling to find work.

Graduates are paid the minimum wage by the university and UC24 provides a placement working in communications, business and marketing.

Ms Lucy said a third scheme in development would see undergraduates gain work experience at the organisation, and could also open up to unemployed 18- to 24-year-olds in future.

She said as a social enterprise organisation UC24 had a duty to show the community how it adds social value.

‘I’ve been pushing to say, we are a social enterprise, what does that mean? Because we get benefits from that; not least claiming some kind of ethical advantage.

‘In the broadest sense, our business is out-of-hours and urgent care. The real bottom lines are about providing excellent clinical care, reinvesting into care and new services, and contributing to the local community.

‘And so for us, developing work and learning opportunities for people locally works for that contributing to the local community ethos we have.’

Earlier this year GP reported experts' suggestions that Social Value Act legislation, requiring public bodies to consider how services they commission could improve the local social, economic and environmental wellbeing, could be used by GP commissioners and providers to counterbalance tendering rules which could favour commercial providers.

Ms Lucy said the Social Value Act could be used by providers ‘to demonstrate that we add something extra’.

‘Sometimes it’s a bit of an education role with commissioners to make sure providers are contributing to a good commissioning process.’

She said if GP providers set themselves up as social enterprises, they should be able to be ‘explicit’ about their social contribution.

The could work in 'a number of ways', she explained. 'Ours is because the employment and economic situation around where we are is such that we are targeting supporting people to work. But there will be different things in different places.’

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