Election 2020: Successful Health Reform Hinges on Relationship Between Government and Charities

Posted on 23 Jan 2020

Reform of Ireland’s health and social care services will only succeed if the Government transforms its relationship with voluntary services providers, according to The Wheel who launched their General Election manifesto, Stronger Communities, Stronger Ireland in Dublin today at an event attended by leading voluntary health and social care providers.

Launch of Stronger Communities Campaign

Speaking at the event, The Wheel’s Director of Public Policy, Ivan Cooper, said the voluntary sector currently provides approximately one quarter of acute hospital services and approximately two thirds of services to people with disabilities. 

He added that voluntary service providers in receipt of state funding from both the HSE and Tusla, are struggling to meet an increase in demand for services combined with increasingly precarious funding arrangements and demanding compliance requirements.

“In recent years relationships between funding authorities and voluntary health and social care providers have become dominated by financial accountability, instead of focusing on ensuring high quality, responsive outcomes for communities. A new Government has the opportunity to lead in recognising and resourcing the interdependent relationship between the State and the organisations providing services in health, disability and social care on the frontline. Sustainable funding and collaboration should be at the heart of the relationship between the state and voluntary service providers,” said Mr Cooper.

In its manifesto, The Wheel call on the next Government to;

  • Recognise and support the value the community, voluntary and charity sector adds to society
  • Enable responsive services through streamlined compliance systems and to provide for the cost of compliance (and Good Governance) in funding arrangements
  • Support sustainable funding models, including the introduction of multi-annual funding and sustainable funding for or HSE Section 39 and Tusla Section 56 organisations
  • Embrace collaborative partnership working by,
    • Developing and implement a collaborative framework for partnership working
    • Implementing the recommendations of the Department of Health’s Independent Review Group.

Mr. Cooper continued, “The new government has to move from ‘risk-shifting’, contract-dominated approaches, to ‘risk sharing’, best-outcome approaches which prioritise the best interests of individuals and families in receipt of services. There are people at the core of this issue, people depending on localised community services in order to survive, and live full lives.”

“Simple policy changes such as introduction of multi annual funding models of three to five years and the implementation of the Department of Health’s report of the Independent Review Group - established to examine the role of voluntary organisations in publicly-funded health and personal social services (IRG report) - would move us towards a health service that works, and that can respond to those most in need. We all need to remember that people are at the core of this issue, people are depending on localised community services in order to survive, and live full lives.” said Mr Cooper.

The Wheel is calling on all candidates to show their support for charities, community and voluntary organisations, and social enterprises, which operates in every constituency in Ireland, by signing the Stronger Communities Stronger Ireland manifesto.

Find out how you can support the campaign.