The report of the Independent Review Group, established to examine the role of voluntary organisations in health and social care, was published last week.
The report, which includes a series of recommendations for wide-ranging reforms, was welcomed by the Minister for Health Simon Harris. One of the report’s key findings is that Ireland benefits from having a voluntary sector and that it should continue to play an integral role in the delivery of health and social care services.
Fórsa official Ian McDonell said the report’s recommendations around reforming the funding model for voluntary health and social care organisations are crucial to reversing the high turnover of staff currently experienced in the sector.
“This is a sector that needs to be robustly funded because its single most valuable resource is the people who work in the voluntary health and social care organisations.
“Currently we can see a pattern where skilled people are moving after a few years in the voluntary sector to work in directly-funded section 38 agencies, or to the HSE.
“This pattern needs to change, the sector cannot afford to lose experienced staff, and the only way change the pattern is to ensure the funding model is more robust than it is currently,” he said.
The review has recommended a number of reforms in relation to funding including:
- A move to multi-annual budgets for 3-5 years in duration to facilitate strategic service planning and reform of services
- To review and simplify the service arrangements and grant aid agreements with a view to introducing new arrangements by 2020
- To conduct an analysis of surpluses and deficits over the last five years and put forward proposals for resolving any deficits identified.
Minister Harris said there’s a broad range of other recommendations in the report that will require further consideration. “Many of these align with the Sláintecare programme and will be taken forward in that context, while others will require collaboration with other Government Departments and State Agencies,” he said.
Fórsa head of division Éamonn Donnelly said the union was concerned by reports in the media last Friday (1st March) that the review group’s proposals have not been greeted with enthusiasm in the Department of Health, and there will be “no mad rush in Government to implement them.”
Éamonn said: “The report of the review group is the only real opportunity we have to introduce reforms that would help to make the environment more sustainable for voluntary health and social care organisations. If we can achieve that, we’ll be improving the range and level of services provided by the sector.
“But if the whole thing is kicked to touch by the Government on this occasion, it’ll be an opportunity wasted. We can’t allow that to happen.”
Read the full report here.