• 20May

    Voluntary organisations recognised as vital to health and social care

    The Department of Health, Public Health England and NHS England have published a joint review of the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector that identifies partnership between charities and health adds clear value to the health and care system and services.

    The review report seeks to:

    • describe the role of the VCSE sector in improving health, wellbeing and care outcomes
    • identify the challenges and opportunities in realising the sector’s potential
    • address challenges and maximise opportunities

    The report makes recommendations for government, health and care system partners, funders, regulatory bodies and the VCSE sector. It emphasises putting wellbeing at the centre of health and care services, and making VCSE organisations an integral part of a collaborative system.

    The review had two elements:

    • A review of wider funding and partnerships between health and care agencies and the VCSE sector across England which would focus on three areas: defining, achieving, and demonstrating impact; building capacity and staying sustainable; promoting equality and addressing health inequalities
    • A review of their Voluntary Sector Investment Programme: The Strategic Partnership Programme; The Innovation, Excellence and Strategic Development Fund; The Health and Social Care Volunteering Fund

    The review was produced in partnership through an advisory group of system partners (Department of Health, NHS England, and Public Health England) and voluntary sector representatives working together.

    The review concludes that at both national and local level, the VCSE and statutory sectors need each other. Each brings its own kind of expertise and its own kind of resources. Each has much more to do to ensure citizens are included and empowered from the earliest stage and throughout.

    There is the potential to bring sectors together to create more effective local and national health and care systems, which better support wellbeing. However, to achieve this vision the report makes a series of recommendations highlighting the importance of:

    • Involving VCSE organisations in strategic processes
    • Ensuring social value becomes a fundamental part of health and care commissioning, service provision and regulation
    • Giving greater support to social prescribing
    • Improving the skills of those involved in commissioning
    • Establishing long term funding as standard
    • Improving transparency
    • Valuing and promoting volunteering
    • Ensuring evidence underpins health and care
    • A greater focus on health inequalities
    • Introducing a new streamlined voluntary sector investment programme

    The full report can be read here.

    The VCSE Review website, including blogs about the report, can be accessed here.