DH extends health and social care strategic partners programme

The Department of Health will extend its Voluntary Sector Strategic Partners Programme for another year, Paul Burstow, the care services minister, announced yesterday.

The programme began in 2009 to improve dialogue between the DoH and third sector health and social care organisations.

Speaking at a conference for strategic partners in London yesterday, Burstow announced that the department will extend the funding it provides to 18 strategic partners, some of which are organisations working in partnership, until 2012/13.

It gave funding totalling more than £3.5m in 2011/12 and will hand out the same amount in 2012/13, taking the total amount of funding provided under the scheme to almost £11.8m over four years.

Twenty-six voluntary organisations, including Age UK, the local infrastructure body Navca and the Men’s Health Forum, receive funding from the scheme

Katy Wing, director for improving local services at Navca, said the announcement would help voluntary organisations “to continue to influence the department’s thinking”.

“The Health and Social Care Bill is bringing about fundamental change,” she said. “This announcement shows that the minister understands how vital the voluntary and community sector is to the reforms.”

Burstow did not commit to funding beyond 2012/13. A DoH spokesman said this was because health policy was in a period of transition.

“It would not be appropriate to enter into new agreements while in the process of transition and designing future arrangements,” the spokesman said.

“We are announcing this early to ensure that people have as much time as possible to get involved and start planning.

“Between now and March 2013 we need to develop and design an appropriate relationship with the voluntary sector that reflects the reformed system.

“We will work with the strategic partners and others to design the future arrangements. We remain committed to working in partnership.”