The time has come…

Jo Whaley, Regional Voices (originally posted February 2015)

This review of central VCSE funding is timely. We’ve had nearly two years to settle into the new health and wellbeing commissioning landscape – and we’re getting an idea of where it’s working well and where it needs improvement. We’ve been gathering evidence about gaps and issues in the system, some of which we hope can be addressed in this review:

We need proportionate commissioning practices locally and nationally, and we need multi-year agreements. It just makes more sense; more effort spent delivering and making a difference. We need to make sure no-one is falling through the gaps, outcomes need to improve across the board and health inequalities need addressing.

A focus on the types of work that the VCSE can offer also couldn’t be more timely. There’s a growing recognition of the importance of prevention of ill health, for healthier communities and to reduce demand on the NHS, and the roles the VCSE can play in that (see The right partnerships- a Strategic Partner response to the NHS England Five Year Forward View).

This is at a time when health inequalities are on the increase and the sector is under strain (both due to demand for services and cuts in funding). The sector focuses a lot of its work with those experiencing the worst health outcomes; as a nation we may not be working towards the proportionate universalism proposed by Marmot but we can target our resources more effectively. The sector can offer both more holistic and more personalised services than our statutory partners and commissioning needs to be flexible enough to enable this, getting to the root cause of issues.

There are some great examples coming to light of partnership with the VCSE sector: some exciting local grants programmes developing from CCGs; public health teams working with local organisations to co-produce much needed evidence. Sterling asset based approaches to improving community health. We’ll be feeding this into the VCSE review and over the next year collecting more examples and sharing good practice. See also RAISE’s Exploring the potential of the CCG/CVS partnership in the South East 

Across the system, locally and nationally, with health partners and across the wider determinants of health, we need closer partnership working between the sectors, using the skills and resources of partners to best effect. We need better conversations, sharing of intelligence (see Comparing Apples with Oranges) and sustainably funded infrastructure services can support this. We welcome the Review’s aim to be a role model to the rest of government. Health is in the gift of the whole of government from children’s services through to work and welfare. The NHS alone cannot give children the best start in life, it can’t make sure everyone has enough money to live healthily and it can’t address unhealthy behaviours, when there are wider social determinants. Locally that’s about commissioners (across the local authority and CCG) working with the VCSE, looking at how to build on local assets to help deal with local issues together.

Time to work together, better.

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