As the Deputy will be aware, the Report of the Independent Review Group established to examine the role of voluntary organisations in publicly funded health and social services, published in February 2019, highlighted the important contribution that voluntary organisations have made and continue to make in the delivery of health and social care services across the country.
The key finding in the Report is the need to strengthen the relationship between the State and the voluntary sector. To this end, a Dialogue Forum with Voluntary Organisations was established in December 2019 as recommended in the Report as a key mechanism for strengthening this relationship. 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 Covid-19 crisis has brought into sharp relief both the hybrid nature of our health and social care system and the high level of mutual dependence of the statutory and voluntary sectors. In June 2020, the Dialogue Forum commissioned the NESC Secretariat to explore the healthcare system’s response to Covid-19 crisis and to examine the lessons which can be learned from successful partnership working during the pandemic response. As part of this work, NESC gathered on-the-ground case studies to illustrate ways in which Voluntary Organisations and the State collaborated in responding to the crisis in an effort to capture learning from this unprecedented event.
This Report, which, as the Deputy will be aware, was published in July, is now shaping the work of the Dialogue Forum. The NESC Report can be found online: www.nesc.ie/publications/building-a-new-relationship-between-voluntary-organisations-and-the-state-in-the-health-and-social-care-sectors/