We are an NHS Audiology Service that utilised the Government Right to Request scheme to spin out as a not-for-profit Social Enterprise.
Our organisational form is as a Community Interest Company (CIC). This means that any surplus that we make in terms of funds we have to invest back for the benefit of our social aims – in our case this is service to hearing impaired patients. We have a contract to offer NHS adult and children’s audiology services, free at the point of delivery on behalf of NHS Devon, in Exeter Mid & East Devon.
There is a current initiative called Any Qualified Provider that is opening up adult community hearing aid services to other providers as well as the traditional NHS providers. Chime are considering replicating our service in other geographical areas as we believe we have an excellent model based upon the best of existing NHS services and we want that to thrive and be accessible to NHS patients.
Chime take referrals for hearing tests with adults and children of any age, discuss the results and agree a way forward with our clients. If hearing aid amplification is an option then we can provide this too as an NHS service. If hearing therapy, balance work or tinnitus services are required we can accept NHS referrals for these issues too and refer on to the correct part of the service where this becomes obvious.
We are happy to talk to patients, referrers and commissioners of any aspect of audiological service and how we might be able to help. This can be NHS work but we can be flexible in who we work with or how in fulfilling our social aims.
What is a Social Enterprise?
The Government defines social enterprises as “businesses with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners.”
As with all businesses, they compete to deliver goods and services. The difference is that social and environmental purposes are at the very heart of what they do, and the profits they make are reinvested towards achieving those purposes. Well known examples of social enterprises include the Eden Project, Big Issue and The Phone Co-op.
Social enterprises operate in almost every industry in the UK, from health and social care to renewable energy, from retail to recycling, from employment to sport, from housing to education. Whatever they do, they do it differently from typical business, because they are driven by a social and environmental mission, and they are focused on the community they serve.