Consultations into voluntary sector role in health and care

Commissioned by the three ‘system partners’ (Department of Health, NHS England and Public Health England) the consultation which opened on 7 August invites respondents from the voluntary and health and social care sector to give their views on the challenges and solutions to better investment in and partnership working with the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector and how closer collaboration could be fostered. The consultation closes on 6 November 2015.

The sector already operates extensively within health and social care – we highlight some significant figures:

  • Under a quarter of England’s 171,000 voluntary and community organisations are involved in the provision of adult health and/or social care and support services
  • A third of social enterprises operate in health and social care
  • The statutory sector spends £3.39 billion on health services provided by voluntary and community organisations

As financial problems continue to plague the NHS, the role of the VCSE sector remains critical to the sustainable delivery of health and wellbeing, while offering personalised care and patient choice. Many of the voluntary and community sector organisations engaged in health and social care see themselves as vehicles for integration and co-ordination of care across boundaries – both vital elements to the new health and care model.

In his statement on the review, Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England acknowledges the important role of the VCSE sector as a provider of health services, a source of support for Clinical Commissioning Groups, and a partner in tackling health inequalities. He says it is ‘essential’ for the NHS to work with the voluntary and community sector to help the NHS deliver better, more efficient care.

So for the voluntary and community sector, this review presents a significant opportunity for it, as the system partners are committed to building on the strong partnership that already exists within the sector and to developing it further.

The second consultation will also seek views on the role and effectiveness of the Government’s current ‘voluntary sector investment partnership’ suite of grants.

The advisory group will report early next year.

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