Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Road from Rikers Island

Peter Mason who I met yesterday took a year to build a social business which now turns over 4.3 million pounds (it took me ten to do the same).

Secure Health Care provedes nurse-led health services to inmates at Wandsworth prison. His is the first outsourced health service in the UK and next he is tendering for four more. If successful he will have about 1000 staff and a urnover of 30 odd million.

So what is his USP? Peter offers a model which doesn't make a take profit out of healthcare and uses a model of employee ownership, a sort of John Lewis Partnership for health.

He is swimming with the sharks in that his private sector competitors (Serco for example)circle manacingly looking to legally challenge his use of public funds.

Social entrepreneurs don't come a lot bigger and better than Peter. He is operating at a scale most eschew and his capabilities and ambitions place him in the top tier.

I like meeting people like Peter because he reminds me that e do have serious players who can operate and win at scale who are also able to infuse what they do with the right values. This is a man who regularly gets on his nurses uniform to show people about what his vision means on the ground. This is real leadership, something people in the cynical, tired and institutionalised prison health sector can believe in.

Coupled to this is the business nous and ruthlessness to tackle competitors and poor quality.

I came away from our meeting refreshed. I would love to see Peter's story out there and for him to be on the platforms. But as he says himself, he is immersed in a business and that is where he is needed.

What started as a nurse in Rikers Island penitentiary in New York in the nineties will I hope end in health care system across in UK jails which is a quantum better than we have now. Then,he tells me, he will write his book, 'The Road from Rikers Island'.

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