Consultations launched into voluntary sector role in health and care

Two consultations published today will help to determine the future of voluntary sector involvement in health and care (7 August 2015).

As part of the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) review, respondents from the voluntary and health and social care sectors will give their views on the current state of partnership working, and how closer collaboration could be fostered.

The second consultation will also seek views on the role and effectiveness of the government’s current ‘voluntary sector investment partnership’ suite of grants.

Commissioned by the Department of Health, NHS England, and Public Health England, the VCSE review is overseen by its advisory group of representatives including those from the voluntary sector.

Both consultations will remain open until Friday 6 November and are available to complete below:

The group will report early next year.

NHS England Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, said: “I think it is essential that NHS England is working with the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sectors in co-producing the future of our NHS.  We are working closely with VCSE organisations in the future direction for cancer, mental health, learning disability and other services.

“The health service needs to think beyond the narrowly drawn notion of the national health service itself because we are, and always have been, heavily dependent on the support of the VCSE sector – 3 million volunteers and 5.5 million carers, 1.4 million of whom are full-time doing more than 50 hours a week unpaid as carers.

“The work of VCSE organisations is often not highly visible but makes a huge impact on the lives of millions, often reaching people that do not typically access NHS services and experience the greatest health inequalities.   The sector provides benefits not only for the residents of a local CCG but also for the good functioning of the local health service.  If we want to get serious about demand moderation and the rate of growth of services, we should not forget about the good work that is being done, and in fact more that can be done, by those other parts of the local community.  I am therefore really pleased that this Review is looking at how we can improve partnerships with the VCSE sector.”


  1. Carol Peltier says:

    NHS developing partnerships with the VCS to deliver services to local communities is very much welcomed. Consideration also needs to be given to the much smaller invisible BME communities who are often marginalised and suffer some of the worst health and well-being inequalities. The VCS organisations in these communities are again isolated and struggling to carry on providing the support systems for their communities

    • Emma Easton (Public Participation Team, NHS England) says:

      Thanks very much for your comment Carol. In the first stage of the VCSE review we had a dedicated workstream looking at equalities and the organisations supporting different communities.

      We would like to further explore what some of the solutions to the challenges facing these organisations might be during the second stage of the review and would welcome any suggestions that you might have as part of the consultation.

  2. martin smith says:

    Although the above comments ring true, it still stands that the VCS provide help etc for no money at all. The government never take consideration of this especially as the sector is so big now that to pay volunteers would be a problem for the country’s finances….they have not been watching the ball…any government.

    Volunteers are largely made up from the retired and the unemplyed….there should be an incentive for thoses esp. on low incomes to recieve some money plus their benefits for such work.

    This is were true christianity lies!

    • Emma Easton (Public Participation Team, NHS England) says:

      Thank you for taking the time to post your comment Martin. The contribution that volunteers make to both health and social care is staggering with over 3 million volunteers giving their time for free to help improve outcomes for people and we need to make sure that their contribution is valued, recognised and that we endeavour to meet their needs.

      NHS England has also recently established a programme to look specifically at volunteering, both from volunteers working with voluntary sector organisations, those who give their time directly to health and care organisations, and informal volunteers. I have therefore passed your comments directly to my colleagues, Bev Taylor and Sara Bordoley who work on this programme.

  3. West Lancs Peer Support Group says:

    Being one of the voluntary organisations that are part of the NHS England “Gearing Up Program” to promote Personal Health Budgets, we appreciate that at last the voluntary sector are being recognised for the input we are making to services for people in need of social and health needs.
    For to long the large charities have been getting the funding but only signpost to the smaller charities like ours. We need to divert this funding to the smaller charities who actually go into peoples homes and physically deliver the service.
    Our charity supports 72 people with disabilities to live in their own home, some of those with 24/7 care. We find the staff, pay the staff, deal with payments to HMRC, pay utility bills, do the shopping and make personal payments on behalf of the patient.
    We also work with the DWP as Corporate Appointee’s for people with Dementia who wish to live in their own home.
    Lancashire have a number of CCGs and have not made us welcome at all, there are only 35 people in the whole of the county in receipt of a PHB and we have impression that there is a resistance to PHB.
    However, recently we have engaged with our local CCG in West Lancashire and had a very positive meeting with the CEO to discuss what services we can offer the CCG, we have since written to the CEO outlining the services we can offer, this has resulted in a further meeting being planned to form a consortium of voluntary organisations to work with the CCG to improve the health of the citizens of West Lancashire.
    At this moment in time we are arranging for a patient to have his dyalisis treatment at home instead of spending most of the day travelling to Liverpool, having the treatment, recovering then travelling home. This gentleman is also blind, so having the treatment at home would enhance his health and be more cost effective for the NHS. The hospital have agreed to train 3 carers in the use of the equipment.
    We are a family led charity who have sons and daughters of our own with disabilities, and have been providing this service since 2004 that is audited by Lancashire’s finance department. We welcome the challenge of providing people with complex needs the service they require more cost effectively considering the current economic climate
    Les Scaife
    West Lancs Peer Support.

    • Emma Easton (Public Participation Team, NHS England) says:

      Thank you for providing such a detailed case study on the work of your voluntary sector organisation. I’m really pleased that you feel that the voluntary sector is being recognised through your work on personal health budgets. We know the voluntary sector is extremely valuable and we hope that through this review we can help develop better partnerships across other areas in health and care.

  4. Joan Manning says:

    It is very interesting that you are having an in depth look at the Voluntary Sector.
    However why is it that no one will address the fact that volunteers have no status in law and therefore no statutory rights:
    No rights to personal protection
    No rights to personal advocacy
    No rights to personal representation
    and No rights to personal support.

    Individual volunteers (not only those working as carers or helpers, but magistrates, Directors, Board Members, Emergency Health Assistants, Life -Boat men (in fact anyone who works without pay) may be bullied, humiliated, patronised and have their personal reputation compromised – and will be expected to walk away because they are ‘only’ volunteers.

    Several approaches have been made regarding Volunteers’ status:
    Questions to Baroness Thornton in the House of Lords (2009)
    A volunteers’ right enquiry by Volunteering England (2011) and a Kings Fund Report (2013). But each time volunteers have been deprived of having their status acknowledged. This can have upsetting and devastating consequences.

    Employed people have rights.
    People in prison have rights.
    Slaves have rights.
    Even animals have rights.

    When you are looking at and discussing the value of the voluntary sector to the whole of our economy, please address our needs to be granted a status in law and therefore have the protection of the law.

    Thank you.

    • Emma Easton (Public Participation Team, NHS England) says:

      Thank you for your thoughts on this. As your comments relate to how the statutory sector works with volunteers more broadly, I have passed your comments onto a colleague who will be able to respond to this more fully.

      NHS England has also recently established a programme looking at how we can create the right conditions for volunteers to flourish within health and care so I have also passed your comments to my colleagues, Bev Taylor and Sara Bordoley, who work on this programme so that they can take your thoughts into account as the programme develops.

  5. RISE Kent says:

    Good Afternoon,

    RISE Kent, a peer centred support group in Thanet for female adult survivors of sexual trauma. We have recently been approved funding with the hope to start the group beginning of October. I am writing to you to ask how we can appear on the Voluntary, Community and social Enterprise Sector of services available in the community and CCG reports, as the more services that know about RISE the more people we are able to support.

    If you have any advice or are able to sign post us in the right direction, it would be very much appreciated!

    Kind Regards,

    Emma Park

    • Emma Easton (Public Participation Team, NHS England) says:

      Thanks for your enquiry, Emma. Are you already in contact with your local council for voluntary services (CVS)? They can often provide advice about the best way to reach CCGs and ensure local health organisations are aware of the different voluntary sector organisations working in their area.

      Finally, it may be worth having a look at the resources page on the Regional Voices website: as they have produced a range of resources on how voluntary sector organisations can work with CCGs and Health and Wellbeing Boards.