Looking back with Pride

As the founding Chief Executive of Spectrum Community Health CIC, it is safe to say we came from humble beginnings, transferring out from the NHS but always with the aim of continuing to serve by adding even more value as a social enterprise.

We started out as WISMS (Wakefield Integrated Substance Misuse Service) in 2003, under NHS Wakefield District Primary Care Trust and a small team of 13. Five years later, the ‘Right to Request’ was introduced by the Department of Health, enabling staff to take the lead in setting up social enterprises. This programme was part of the national objective to ‘Transform Community Services’ and under Spectrum, we have been doing just that!

Spectrum began with around 100 staff working to a single contract, spread across three main operating services supported by a small Head Office team. A brave step, but one which allowed us a level of autonomy to tackle social issues, address health inequalities and bring about greater staff and patient involvement. Evidence told us this could harness innovation and lead to better outcomes and better value for beneficiaries and the public. Having been inspired by the stories of social enterprises large and small, I was and remain wholly convinced by the social enterprise and employee ownership model’s ability to add value, deliver MORE – more for people being served and more for the staff who are serving.

01 April 2011 was a proud moment for me and indeed everyone who had decided to take that bold step… being able to put the company plate above the door, sign letters with the company logo, and take control of our destiny.

We were now responsible for delivering care to some of Wakefield’s most vulnerable, most voiceless. We were also now responsible for an impassioned and committed staff group with some of THE most specialised community skills and for creating and maintaining an environment that would support them in their desire to improve the lives of patients and their communities and flourish in role – values that are at our core and remain an essential ingredient of anyone working at and with Spectrum today.

Opportunities were now well within our grasp and we took hold of them. Relentlessly focussing on the challenges faced by three distinct but interlinked populations: health and justice, sexual health and substance misuse has underpinned our 10-year journey and we have grown in confidence year on year to the point of being able to define oursleves not only as clinical experts with a social enterprise ethos but also as natural integrators, the latter enabling us to attract some of THE most amazing and skilled partners to work with us.

Our first big test and exciting step outside our district of origin came in 2013 delivering prison healthcare services at HMP & YOI Styal – the second largest female prison in the UK. From here we started to build up a reputation of bespoke joined-up, person-centred pathways, acknowledging how important it always is to invest in a deep and respectful partnerships with HMPPS when working in secure environments, founded on shared values.

As our confidence and expertise grew, we took on one of the most challenging turnaround programmes in the NHS: HMP Liverpool. Liverpool’s whole healthcare model needed to be transformed in a very short timeframe. Catapulted into the national spotlight following a challenging HMIP inspection in 2017, we felt well-placed and ready to respond to the call. Better Health Liverpool was born and you can read about this case study in the following pages and on our website. We now cover prisons right across the North of England as the second largest prison healthcare provider.

We’ve also grown footprint and reputation for successfully integrating and innovating in sexual health services and spreading our influence to encompass Wakefield, Barnsley and Wigan and Leigh. Our approach has resulted in purpose-built clinical premises, modern customer care, a highly and dual trained nursing team, successful sexual health outreach, pioneering Relationship & Sexual Health Education, strong links to Primary Care Networks, digitally inclusive care pathways and proactive management of GUM outcomes. This has solidified Spectrum as a quality and innovative sexual health provider.

In substance misuse services (SMS), we lead as an expert clinical partner, now across the North: knowledgeable, evidence-based, holistic, with capable clinicians known for their expertise, wellbeing championship, outreach and partnership working. We are always prepared to challenge stigma and look ahead with hope for our population, successfully navigating years of shrinking budgets and a worrying societal picture of worsening health inequalities. Superb multi-disciplinary working across wide and complex geographies means our substance misuse teams are renowned for dogged excellence in care, rewarded in 2018 when North Yorkshire Horizons became the first SMS provider to be ever be awarded an OUTSTANDING by the CQC. In fact, to this day all of our community services rated by the regulator have never fallen short of anything but GOOD – a testament to the tenacity and focus of our community teams.

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Our Impact

I encourage you to read on and learn how Spectrum has made an impact evidenced by:

• how we tackle inequalities head on
• how we lead on improving population health
• how we enhance the experience of care for those who find themselves with expressed vulnerabilities


Working Together

No organisation can operate without a healthy corporate infrastructure be that Finance, HR, Communications, Marketing, Performance, Quality and Programme Management.

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Corporate Services

Our corporate services have matured and whilst always ‘punching above our weight’ corporate services are growing through investments in Digital, Patient Safety and Experience, Business Intelligence, Social Value Impact, Research and Education and Training. Investing in our infrastructure must and will continue and Spectrum has some of the finest.

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We also acknowledge and welcome opportunities for sharing expertise and approaches to enhancing systems and processes of care borne through the move to Integrated Care Systems – exciting times...

Dr Linda Harris OBE
Chief Executive