The voluntary sector's role in the challenge ahead

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In recent weeks, most health policy discussion has rightly focused on the health White Paper consultations. As we debate the implications of the proposed new structures it is crucial to be thinking about what kind of care we want these structures to help deliver.

Not long ago, barely a day could go by without someone invoking Rahm Emanuel's 'never waste a good crisis' line or talking about the opportunity presented by the 'burning platform' to deliver radical change to transform care. A report, How to deliver high-quality, patient-centred, cost-effective care, out yesterday from ten major health charities reignites that line of argument.

With support from The King's Fund, the charities have made a collective case that whether you look at care for people with cancer, stroke, lung disease, multiple sclerosis, mental health problems, diabetes, or, importantly, care for people with multiple conditions, there are great opportunities to make services both more patient-centred and more cost-effective, through things such as more extensive use of care planning and better supported self-management.

An important underlying message in the report is the contribution of the voluntary sector in the delivery of these sorts of services. Commissioners wanting to provide co-ordinated, personalised, cost-effective care will want to ensure they look to the voluntary sector as an important source of services that patients want and need. And the voluntary sector in its turn will need to support commissioners with the information and evidence they need to do this.

While many of these services can demonstrate cost-effectiveness and value for money, the savings made are usually realised over time and are dispersed across organisations both within and outside the NHS. The recent reports about Iain Duncan-Smith's spending review negotiations with the Treasury over welfare reform are a high profile example of how difficult it is to make the 'invest now to save later' argument at the moment. But taking a long-term view of the services that will meet patients' needs both now and in the future is the only sustainable way to deliver the government's goal of excellent patient-centred care.



Comment date
02 December 2013
Howdy! This post couldn't be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this page to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

Mike Whitlam

Comment date
14 October 2010
I have argued for over 30 years that the Third Sector has a real role in the delivery of services and having been on a PCT Board for the past few years and being involved now in the changes I think that folk will start to listen more and realise that we do have the skills, and resouces to run services under contract for the NHS.

catherine parkinson

co ordianator,
head to heart
Comment date
23 September 2010
This has been a a dream of mine, and to read this article brings hope of change.
I have walked a journey of two parents with physical and mental needs and seen some positives and deep flaws in our NHS.
We can make a huge difference when we stop the blame culture
and old mind sets, and be open to listen to each service an d the service users for more cohesion, not the great divide amongst the departments. Thank you.

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