Voluntary sector review an opportunity to futureproof health services

IMPACT national secretary Eamonn Donnelly
IMPACT national secretary Eamonn Donnelly

IMPACT has said the recently appointed independent review group, to examine the role of voluntary organisations in publicly funded health services, provides an opportunity to review the funding model for those organisations.

The review group, to be chaired Dr Catherine Day, was announced in July by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD.

The terms of reference provide for:

  • An examination of current arrangements across the health and social care sector
  • Consideration of issues currently arising, and those likely to arise in the future
  • Recommendations on how the relationship between the State and voluntary organisations should evolve in the future.

IMPACT national secretary Eamonn Donnelly said the review provides a long overdue opportunity to look at how voluntary organisations providing health services are funded. “The review group needs to look at the issues highlighted by IMPACT in our Caring At What Cost campaign.

“Any examination of current arrangements needs to look at how the sector is funded, and to recommend measures to ensure the sustainability of services through adequate funding. IMPACT is looking for our concerns to be placed at the centre of this review, which the terms of reference are well designed to accommodate.

“In particular, any recommendations on how the relationship between the State and voluntary organisations should evolve in the future needs to carefully consider the funding model.

“Until the funding of community and voluntary organisations is addressed, the capacity of the sector to provide services will continue to be eroded. As a society, we can’t afford to allow that to happen. We have an ageing population with growing care needs. We need to futureproof the sector, and this review should be a first step to toward achieving that goal,” he said.

Minister Harris said voluntary and non-statutory providers have made an enormous contribution to the provision of health and personal social services in Ireland over centuries. “Their role in providing care to people, at a time when in many cases the State failed to do so, has led to the complex tapestry that is our current health system. The role played by these organisations, how they are organised and their arrangements with the State have changed over the years and we can expect further changes to emerge over time.”

The Minister encouraged all stakeholders and interested parties to contribute to the review and to engage in the process in a positive and constructive way.
It is expected that the group will report to the Minister within a year.