Local infrastructure organisations have criticised the NHS’s latest strategy as “completely undervaluing” charities’ contributions.
Published last month, Next Steps on the NHS Five Year Forward View reviewed the progress made since the publication of the original Five Year Forward View in October 2014 and set out further recommendations for how the organisation could improve its services.
But the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action has said that the latest strategy fails to recognise the sector’s contribution to delivering NHS services.
In a newly published analysis, Navca praised the 2014 strategy, saying it recognised “the value of the part played by charities and voluntary organisations in improving health and care services”.
“References to social action, volunteering and the voluntary sector were peppered throughout. It made a strong case for investment in charities’ capacity to engage people in their own health and care,” it said.
In contrast, Navca said the latest update “completely misses” the advocacy role played by charities in helping shape services around the needs of patients and carers.
“This omission is particularly surprising in sections on primary care, new care models and reducing delayed transfers of care. This implies a lack of understanding of the role of volunteering and social action by the authors,” it says.
It adds that the term “third sector” makes its first appearance in a government document for a long time.
Neil Cleeveley, Navca chief executive, said: “Compared to the Five Year Forward View, it completely under-values the role played by charities and community groups.
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“If the NHS is to reduce demand on hospital beds, A&E and GP surgeries it needs to invest in the preventative and community-based services charities offer.
“Although it says little about charities, the report makes much of person-centred and community-based care, where the voluntary sector excels.
“I hope our members will use NAVCA’s analysis to make the case for greater voluntary sector involvement in local health and care systems. People really value local charities’ services, it is vital that they are sustained and grown.”