City event reveals that the health and social care industry don't understand the 'Big Society' agenda• by Hollie Jenkins
Senior health and social care practitioners revealed that they do not have a clear idea of what the Government’s ‘Big Society’ agenda means or how it will impact their sector, during the launch event for a new interdisciplinary Centre for Better Managed Health and Social Care at City University London.
An audience poll demonstrated that the vast number of attendees, made up of sector representatives, leaders, City staff and students and media, felt that the 'Big Society' concept had not been clearly defined. This highlights an opportunity for the Centre for Better Managed Health and Social Care to represent health and social care and help lead the reform agenda.
The conclusion that the 'Big Society' concept was vague was echoed by the event's panel which included Martin Green, Chief Executive of the English Community Care Association, Lord Victor Adebowale, Chief Executive, Turning Point and Nigel Edwards, Acting Chief Executive, NHS Confederation.
Martin Green, Chief Executive of the English Community Care Association said: "I've spoken to politicians at a local and national level and they don't know what the 'Big Society' agenda is all about either.
"It is clearly an ill defined concept and this vagueness provides a great opportunity for us, as healthcare professionals, to shape the 'Big Society' in a way that fits our commitment to providing the most effective health and social care possible."
Martin Green, Chief Executive, English Community Care Association
One definition of the 'Big Society', according to Lord Adebowale, Chief Executive of Turning Point, could be the adjustment of services to make them more accessible to the public: "Too often public services work within very rigid paradigms and often the problem isn't a lack of service, but people not knowing how to access them. We need to strive for more sustained and genuine involvement of service users."
Dean Fathers, Director of the Centre for Better Managed Health and Social Care said: "We will be taking the key issues raised at the launch as the basis for our work, in terms of policy recommendations, education and research."
The new Centre for Better Managed Health and Social Care brings together expertise and academics from across City University London, including from Cass Business School, the School of Community and Health Sciences, the School of Social Sciences and the School of Informatics.
Founded as a hub for collaboration between University experts, policy makers, researchers and business, the Centre is also working in partnership with NHS Direct, the Department of Health, the National Skills Academy for Social Care, the International Longevity Centre, the Institute of Cancer Research, Turning Point and Age UK Enterprise.
Specialist commercial insurance company CNA Europe sponsored the launch event and will be partnering with the Centre to reach key stakeholders in the healthcare and social care industries.