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Social enterprise

Q: I am a GP with a specialised practice looking after a minority group of patients. We are sited on the same premises as a voluntary organisation that offers help to our patients. The PCT wants to dissolve the practice and distribute the patients to surrounding practices although the LMC and the practices oppose this. One option would be to form a social enterprise with the voluntary organisation, but I am not sure how to go about this.

A: I am assuming your practice operates under PCTMS and that your practice's dilemma has been precipitated by the edict that PCTs must shed any provider responsibilities by 1 April 2011.

You can seek advice on setting up a social enterprise from the DoH Social Enterprise Unit, dh.gov.uk, where you can also find a video giving specific advice on setting up a social enterprise.

It is vital for you to establish that your PCT would be prepared to commission such a service and whether the voluntary organisation would be willing to host you.

I suggest you meet with them and discuss your intentions. If they are supportive, seek further guidance on setting up a social enterprise. However do not underestimate the need for time plus legal and accountancy advice in achieving this.

You must consider issues like the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) for staff and whether you can offer them NHS pensions.

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