Health charities 'must provide proof'

Charities delivering NHS services have to demonstrate effectiveness, says new guidance

Charities that deliver services on behalf of the NHS will be required to demonstrate the effectiveness of their work from April 2010, according to the Department of Health.

The proposal is contained in the latest guidance from the department on how Lord Darzi's Next Stage Review, which sets out his vision for the NHS, will affect third sector service providers.

The guidance says charities will have to provide information on the quality of services provided "in every service line – looking at safety, experience and outcomes".

Ralph Michell, policy advocate at chief executives body Acevo, said: "If we as a sector back ourselves to deliver better quality services, we should welcome the opportunity to say ‘here's the proof'."

But he added that the detail needed to be carefully considered to prevent the requirement from becoming "a bureaucratic nightmare".

Steve James, chief executive of complex needs charity the Avenues Trust and a non-executive director of Greenwich Teaching Primary Care Trust, said he hoped the department would allow charities to provide their own proof of effectiveness rather than introduce another form-filling exercise.

He also urged charities to liaise locally to make sure their views on the proposals were heard by PCTs.

"We are a difficult sector to consult with," he said. "Nationally, the department understands third sector issues, but the vast majority of health services are commissioned by PCTs, and their relationships with the sector are not as robust."

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