Headlines: October 24th, 2005

A new task force has been set up to look at clearing the way for charities to bid to provide health and social care services. It will identify strategies to break down barriers that stop third sector organisations – including the voluntary sector and not for profit social businesses – having more involvement in delivering ‘innovative person-centred health and social care services’The task force, announced by the Care Services Minister Liam Byrne, will have representatives from other leading charities including Marie Curie Cancer Care, Sue Ryder Care, Rethink and Turning Point as well as government experts.

Liam Byrne said the third sector had shown itself to be innovative, efficient and often well connected within communities. Organisations in the sector were key to providing a choice of health and social care services, he said. “To harness the full potential of the third sector, we need to transform our relationship with the sector so that it truly reflects our vision of partnership. We need to build on existing practice and provide additional flexible approaches to ensure the third sector have a central role in delivery,” he said.

The Taskforce will be led by co-chairs Jo Williams, head of the mental health charity Mencap, and Lord Adebowale, chief executive of Turning Point. Lord Adebowale said successive governments had said the voluntary sector should play a greater role but setting up the task force was a major step towards a practical change. He said charities like Turning Point could provide better value than the private sector.

Lord Adebowale and Ken Anderson at the Department of Health, will jointly head an initial working group. This will give its interim conclusions by the end of November, so they can be fed into the work going on to inform the forthcoming White Paper, ‘Your health, your care, your say’.