On Thursday 8th January, Spectrum was visited by the Rt. Hon. Francis Maude MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, to see at first hand some of the organisation’s successes and highlights.
The Minister said:
“I am here because this is a social enterprise that is succeeding. We have seen an extraordinary growth in non-government run organisations, and this is due to the freedom it allows them. I admire what social enterprises do – working not for profit and using this to do more for the community.”
Dr. Linda Harris, Chief Executive at Spectrum, said:
“It’s tremendous support and recognition of the hard work by our staff, that we were able to host a visit by Cabinet Office today. We have showcased some amazing achievements as a social enterprise working in the health sector on behalf of the NHS and local authority public health.”
The visit, at Spectrum’s head office in Wakefield, opened with representatives from the Sexual Health team discussing the importance and success of their outreach work. To promote good sexual health and offer screenings, Spectrum’s outreach teams work with communities in a lot of non-traditional clinic settings (eg. pubs and clubs) to raise awareness of STIs and sexual health issues. The minister was particularly enthusiastic about Spectrum’s Outreach team’s HIV screening campaign. Team lead, Amanda and healthcare support worker Elaine explained how they are using Spectrum’s mobile health and wellbeing unit to focus their efforts in reaching further into communities. The Minister was also given an insight in the work by the Relationship & Sexual Education team, which has delivered lessons to over 20,000 young people across the Wakefield District.
Next Jacqui, our Alcohol team leader, spoke to the Minister about Spectrum’s new SMART Recovery self-help group, which is both acting as an alternative to and complementing the work of other support networks. People who are recovering from alcohol addiction are finding the service invaluable to getting their lives back on track. One service user had quoted: “I like that it’s a smaller group. Other support groups can be a bit overpowering. It’s nice to be able to have my chance to speak and get to know the people that attend.”
The Minister also heard about the crucial work of Spectrum’s Alcohol Liaison Service (ALS), which is based at Pinderfields Hospital, and has been helping to alleviate pressures from the Emergency Department and other wards. Patients who have alcohol-related conditions are referred to the ALS team to provide advice and support. Over the Christmas and New Year period, Spectrum’s nursing team was based at our mobile health and wellbeing unit, outside Pinderfields Hospital’s Emergency Department, to assist with patients with alcohol issues.
Turning to Spectrum’s Offender Healthcare services, the Minister was introduced to the UK’s first ever Relationships & Sex Education (RSE) programme, aimed at vulnerable women within a prison environment. The programme has been specially developed to fit the needs of prisoners who need the awareness and support when being released from prison, back into the community.
Minister Francis Maude commented on the ‘power given through education’:
“It’s so important to tackle the underlying problems,” he said. “By doing this you see tremendous social benefit – improving people’s happiness and health.”
Primary Care Matron Claire showcased Spectrum’s Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) programme and dedicated CVD nurse within a high security prison. The programme has received national acclaim, winning several awards and providing a much needed support in healthcare services for prisoners who have heart disease and hypertension. Then matrons, Jo and Kay, described the work that had gone into Spectrum’s nursing team at HMP & YOI New Hall being granted the UK’s first ever Prison Quality Practise Award by the RCGP (Royal College of General Practitioners).
Spectrum has a vision to reduce health inequalities and Karen, our Wellbeing team leader, described to the Minister how her service provides essential support for vulnerable people who don’t access mainstream healthcare services. The Minister heard from service user, Wendy, who has been supported by Spectrum whilst she was homeless and now volunteers with Spectrum as an ‘Expert by Experience’ for the West Yorkshire Finding Independence project (a Big Lottery funded programme).
“After how much I’ve learnt and gained, I’m so happy to be giving it back,” she said. “I’m happy now – I’m back to being me. Spectrum’s staff were there for me, and I’m so glad these services were here.”
Finally the Minister was greeted by Alix Jeavons, Commissioning Manager for Mental Health at Wakefield CCG, who described the work Spectrum was doing to lead on creating a Mental Health Movement within the Wakefield District to tackle stigma.
Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:
“As part of this Government’s long term economic plan, we are determined to be creative in finding innovative models for delivering public services. Spectrum Community Health is a great example of an employee-led company that is having huge impact in the community and it was fascinating to find out more about the work it is doing.
“Every single person I have met today has told me how they’re doing something different. I feel it is important to integrate services more, in order to help those with the most complex problems. Organisations that have spread out more from the NHS are able to do this much better and organisations like Spectrum can reach across the healthcare system to deliver the best services possible.
“Too often we expect your services to adapt to us, when in fact we should be adapting for the services. The best thing about organisations like Spectrum is that you build the service around a service user. All of the incentive is to get the person to a better place as quickly as possible.”