Northern Care Alliance NHS Group celebrates social value success despite challenges of pandemic

30 June 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified many societal health and social care inequalities, including those faced by local communities in Bury, Oldham, Rochdale and Salford. But despite these challenges, the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group, which operates four hospital sites and a variety of community services across these localities, is continuing to move its social value ambitions in the right direction.

It reported a number of successes to its Board this Monday (28 June), as well as making further commitments to influence local and national policy, as part of its post COVID-19 recovery plans.

Members were updated on the progress made since January 2021, when the NCA Board considered the impact of COVID-19 to the Group’s social value commitment and set clear employment and place-related ambitions, agreeing further ambitions in respect of procurement and to challenge itself further against commitments already made.

Director of Social Value, Donna McLaughlin, explains: “Social value is the NCA’s approach to addressing some of the structural inequalities which drive poverty, which we know is one of the major contributing factors to poor health. We are pleased and proud to be able to report that, despite the pressures of the pandemic, a number of significant achievements have been made over the last six months where we’ve been able to take positive action to address structural inequalities through employment opportunities, purchasing decisions and the use of our estates and assets, addressing matters where people are marginalised from employment and economic advantage.”

Achievements to date

Since January 2021, the NCA has delivered the following achievements and progress:

  • Recruited 166 pre-employment learners across the NCA(there are loads of different schemes)
  • Recruited the first 10 out of 90 Kickstart learners through the government support scheme aimed at 16-25 year olds in receipt of universal credit
  • Supported 30 people through a pilot with Get Oldham Working and Oldham Council, funded through GMCA, with at least 10 moving into apprenticeship opportunities.
  • Supported changes to technical education, enabling young people to apply directly for NHS jobs, particularly in the healthcare science field, funded via the Oldham Opportunity Area.
  • Increased the total number of local people employed across the NCA from 45% in July 2019 to 57.8% in March 2021
  • Increased the number of staff volunteering as NHS Career Ambassadors and Work Experience Hosts across the NCA from 440 to 696, despite the operational pressures of Covid19.
  • Brought together over 80 people at a community of practice event focusing on how we can challenge ourselves further by working with our partners to create local wealth through our purchasing decisions, see the video here
  • Planned to spend £31.1m of the total £44.8m construction costs of the James Potter Building on our Salford Royal Hospital site within either the Salford or Greater Manchester region  
  • Planned to create 360 job opportunities for Salford residents and well over 1,000 jobs for our neighbouring localities in relation to the James Potter capital build

Next steps

In a bid to maintain the momentum created as a result of the achievements made during the first six months of this year, the NCA’s Board also approved the following recommendations and will continue to push forward its social value ambitions throughout 2021 and into 2022, by:

  • Supporting a further 320 pre-employment learners and welcoming further Kickstart cohorts.
  • Linking explicitly into local neighbouring Councils to support economic development post COVID with a particular focus in Salford on Digital and advanced manufacturing within Rochdale.
  • Supporting the creation of the NCCA (Northern Care College Alliance) with Oldham, Salford City, Hopwood Hall and Bury Colleges.
  • Stretching our original ambition of 50% of the NCA workforce to be from our local community to 60% by 2025.
  • Bringing forward the achievement of our ambition to create 1000 NHS Career Ambassadors and Work Experience Hosts to from 2025 to 2023
  • Achieving a 10% increase from the baseline figure of £8,390,600 of local non-pay influenceable spend by 2025, focusing on the procurement of food, social care contracting and by working with our local councils to engage local suppliers and trades.

Raj Jain, Chief Executive Officer for the NCA commented: “Our place-based organisational structure places our Care Organisations at the heart of the communities we serve. Our social value ambitions are an extension of that commitment to place based leadership and I’m very pleased and proud of the progress that has been made to date and in spite of some of the biggest challenges we’ve ever faced during the last year.

“However, we need to respectfully engage with our partners across the region and acknowledge that organisations across the community and voluntary sectors often have stronger and greater reach into communities than the relationship we have as a public sector organisation. We therefore need to learn when to take the lead and when to provide support, and we are very excited to be embarking on the next stage of our social value journey in collaboration with our partners, and are committed to further and faster developments which will benefit our communities and reduce the inequalities we know need to be addressed.”

As part of our Social Value strategy an update on the NCA’s environmental mission (our commitment to Greener NHS and sustainability) is also articulated in the Sustainability Development Plan (SDP) which was approved in January 2020. An update is planned to be received by the board in September 2021.

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