Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Health
540. To ask the Minister for Health if he will increase membership of the dialogue forum with voluntary bodies to include union representatives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44262/20]
The Report of the Independent Review Group established to examine the role of voluntary organisations in publicly funded health and social services, published in February 2019, highlighted the important contribution that voluntary organisations have made and continue to make in the delivery of health and social care services across the country.
The key finding in the Report is the need to strengthen the relationship between the State and voluntary sector organisations. To this end, a Dialogue Forum with Voluntary Organisations was established in December 2019 as recommended in the Report as a key mechanism for strengthening this relationship. The aim of the Forum is to build a stronger working relationship between the State and the voluntary healthcare sector for the benefit of patients and service users. The Forum will also facilitate regular dialogue with the voluntary sector on policy initiatives and will consider issues around governance more generally.
The Forum is independently chaired by Peter Cassells. Members of the Forum include the Department, the HSE, HIQA, the Mental Health Commission and the main representative bodies of voluntary providers of health and social care. Membership of the Forum reflects its key imperative to strengthen the relationship between the State and voluntary organisations and it is not therefore envisaged that membership will be broadened to staff representation organisations at this time.
In the broader context of the strategic development of the health and social care sector, as you are aware, the Department engages with stakeholders across the sector on a regular basis on the development of health and social care policies and there are already a number of formal mechanisms in place for engagement with staff representative bodies.