The Wheel welcomes review of voluntary health and social service sector

The Wheel today welcomed reports that Health Minister Simon Harris is to establish a review group to inquire into the current role and status of voluntary organisations in the operation of health and social services.
Ivan Cooper, Director of Public Policy at The Wheel said, “Community and voluntary organisations have provided core health and social services for many decades. However, the implications of this arrangement for services users, service providers and the State itself are not fully appreciated. We are very much looking forward to participating in this important review so we can ensure that service-users and communities benefit from consistent, high-quality services, while the unique financial and non-financial contribution made by voluntary organisations is recognised and respected.
“There are over 19,000 nonprofit organisations in Ireland managing turnover of over €10Bn a year, and many of these organisations provide essential public services. These organisations generate around €5Bn a year on their own accord, representing a huge financial contribution to the cost of our public services. Additionally, all of this work is overseen by 50,000 voluntary board members and hundreds of thousands of volunteers, fundraisers and donors who give freely of their time and money every year. These financial and non-financial contributions represent the added-value of the community and voluntary approach: the energy and commitment of all involved; the anchoring of services in communities; the funds added to public services and the additional resources contributed - like premises and equipment  – that would otherwise be unavailable to state. The review group should take all of this into account,” said Mr Cooper.
Mr Cooper added: “The Wheel has been calling for years for the role of community and voluntary organisations to be recognised and adequately supported. The review presents an opportunity to produce a coherent strategy for the delivery of public services and for the key role played by voluntary organisations in delivering those services.
“The voluntary sector makes a huge contribution to national life – we are very pleased by reports that the Minister for Health is to establish this review to look at the issues that arise in connection with the provision of services to the public through voluntary  organisations, and we look forward to contributing to it and to the  recommendations it will make on how the relationship between them and the State in the arena of health and social services should evolve in the future,” said Mr Cooper.