Community and Voluntary Sector welcomes new partnership approach with the State
April 26 2023
Issued by the Disability Federation of Ireland on behalf of the Coalition of Voluntary Organisations and Representative Bodies (CVORB)
The Coalition of Voluntary Organisations and Representative Bodies (CVORB) warmly welcome the recent launch of the Partnership Principles and the positive potential they present for building a renewed relationship between voluntary organisations and the State in the Health and Social Care Sectors.
The Partnership Principles were launched by Minister Stephen Donnelly, in the Department of Health on Monday 3 April last. Speaking at the launch the Minister recognised that the community and voluntary sector is an "essential partner in health delivery, given that 25% of the State's health and social care is delivered by the Voluntary sector”.
The Partnership Principles for the Health and Social Care Sectors, seek to guide and inform the evolving relationships between the state and voluntary organisations. Across Ireland voluntary hospitals and community and voluntary organisations deliver a wide range of essential, frontline services and supports on behalf of the state, a renewed relationship is necessary for a positive and collaborative approach to health and social care. Minister Donnelly also reflected that the principle of collective leadership is critical to the reform of the health service.
Our shared responsibility to the citizens who use health and social services in Ireland creates the necessity for a positive, collaborative and renewed relationship between the State and the voluntary sector. CVORB believe that if effectively implemented, the Partnership Principles will have tangible benefits for the individuals and communities that we serve. By enabling a more effective working relationship between the state and the community and voluntary sector, strengths and resources can be combined more effectively to achieve a greater impact on the ground. This means that communities will have access to more comprehensive and integrated services, a key premise of Sláintecare.
At the heart of these principles is the recognition of the mutual interdependence between the state and voluntary sectors in providing a diverse range of health and social care services to citizens. The unprecedented level of collaboration we saw in response to the Covid-19 crisis demonstrated the mutual benefits for the state, voluntary organisations and service users that can be generated by a commitment to partnership, collaboration and integrated working.
The NESC review of the experience from the Covid pandemic demonstrated that the voluntary sector are problem solvers, and are essential to efficient, quality driven and innovative solutions to shared health and social care issues.
Bernard Gloster, CEO of the HSE reinforced this at the launch when he stated that the, “Health Service can’t achieve what it wants without a vibrant and functioning Voluntary Sector”, while recognising that “principles of subsidiarity are critical...but issues of sustainability a major challenge for voluntary sector agencies”.
The launch of these Partnership Principles is very timely as this new relationship with the Department is explored and bedded down. The implementation of Sláintecare reforms and the establishment of Regional Health Areas aims to renew the delivery of wider health services nationally. These Partnership Principles will provide a valuable guide to the emerging interdependent partnerships between the State and the voluntary organisations. The Department of Health has committed to baking the Partnership Principles into the health reform programme and new structures according to Muiris O’Connor, Assistant Secretary, Department of Health, speaking at the launch.
The work of the Health Dialogue Forum – in collaboratively developing and shaping these Partnership Principles and in the wider work that it is undertaking to renew and build relationships between the Departments, HSE and the Voluntary Sector Providers is valuable and welcome.
The collaborative process undertaken in developing these principles is an example of the type of approach that is desirable between those setting policy, commissioning service, and delivering service in all sectors. The joint process is an example of the respect and trust that are at the heart of the Partnership Principles, where the strengths of both sectors are harnessed for the benefit of people using the services.
The Partnership Principles focus on Accountable Autonomy, Collective Leadership, Problem-Solving Deliberation, Quality People-Centred Services, Innovation and Learning, Engagement and Participation, Transparency, and Trust and Mutual Respect. They emphasise the shared responsibility between the State and voluntary sector to use public resources in an accountable and transparent manner.
The shared and agreed Partnership Principles call upon the State and Voluntary sector, to place the citizen at the centre of the decisions made; and in doing so to work on the basis of trust and mutual respect so that coherent planning and good decisions are informed by engagement and participation - harnessing the strengths of the respective sectors for the benefit of the people using the services.
The interdependent partnership between the State and the voluntary sector carries with it the shared responsibility to use public resources in an accountable and transparent manner, whilst the key strengths of the respective sectors - in relation to service delivery; innovation and learning; and shared leadership - rely on the trust and autonomy that are at the heart of these Principles. Respect for the responsibilities of the voluntary service providers as separate legal entities and the planned joint approach to reflecting these responsibilities in the health reform programme underline the importance and timeliness of the launch and most importantly, the implementation of these Principles.
Speaking at the launch of the Partnership Principles, Michael Hennessy, CEO, Brothers of Charity Services Ireland and Chair of the National Federation of Voluntary Service Providers (NFVSP), stated that if we are to harness the potential of the Partnership Principles to support the State and the Voluntary Sector, to ensure the best possible services and outcomes for the citizens using the services and supports we are jointly responsible for providing, “the next steps will be the most crucial – dissemination, embedding and implementation at local, regional and national levels by all of the Partners involved”.
The CVORB warmly welcome the Partnership Principles and commit our organisations to making these Partnership Principles real on behalf of all of those we support and provide services to.
Notes for Editors
Click here to access the Partnership Principles
The Coalition of Voluntary Organisations and Representative Bodies (CVORB) comprises: The Wheel, Disability Federation Ireland, Voluntary Healthcare Forum, Voluntary Hospices Group, National Federation of Voluntary Service Providers, National Community Care Network, National Disability Association, and Mental Health Reform.
The Health Dialogue Forum Dialogue Forum with Voluntary Organisations (www.gov.ie) was established by Minister Simon Harris at the time of the publication of the Report of the Independent Review Group (IRG). The IRG was established to examine the role of voluntary organisations in publicly funded health and personal social services and was published in February 2019. A key finding in the Report is the need to improve the relationship between voluntary organisations and the State.
- The aim of the Forum is to build a stronger working relationship between the State and the voluntary healthcare sector for the benefit of patients and service users and to facilitate regular dialogue with the voluntary sector on future policy and strategic developments.
- The Forum is chaired by independent Chair Peter Cassells.
- As well as CVORB the following organisations are represented : Department of Health, Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, HSE, HIQA and the Mental Health Commission.
National Economic Social Council: Building a New Relationship between Voluntary Organisations and the State in the Health and Social Care Sectors: Paper for the Dialogue Forum with Voluntary Organisations
Voluntary Agencies comprise 25% of acute hospital and community health and social care services in the State. Not-for-profit or voluntary organisations deliver a wide range of essential, frontline services and supports on behalf of the State - to people with disabilities; older people; recipients of homecare, mental health services, nursing home care, homeless supports, hospices, acute and non-acute hospitals and more.
Voluntary Hospitals account for 40% of HSE acute hospital funding.
The Voluntary sector provides two thirds of disability services in the State.
For media contact:
Mo Flynn, CEO, Voluntary Healthcare Forum, 086 604 0308 email@example.com
Brenda Drumm, Communications Manager, Disability Federation of Ireland, 086 076 4114 firstname.lastname@example.org.