Parties announce intention to increase the role of the voluntary sector in providing NHS and social care

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MPs from the Liberal Democrats, Labour and Conservative parties have stated, at the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations' (ACEVO) Spring Health and Social Care Conference, that their parties would look to integrate the voluntary sector into the NHS following the General Election in May 2015.

Labour MP and Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham called for not-for-profit organisations that provide services to the NHS to be given "a form of preferred provider" status. He also called for charities to be given contracts based on 5 or 10 year arrangements and for those contracts to be renewed without open tender to enable charities to provide long-term services to the NHS. These measures would be in recognition of the contributions made by not-for-profit organisations in developing the wellbeing of their communities. If Labour succeeds in the general election the plan is to legislate for this change in a bill that will replace the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, suggested at the conference that the charity sector is ideal to support the NHS. A report published by ACEVO argues that such collaboration is vital to prevent problems with the NHS in future.

The ACEVO report can be read in full here.