Labour would put voluntary sector 'at the centre of NHS service delivery'

Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, will tell an Acevo conference today that the party would favour long-term 'trusted partnerships', including with charities and social enterprises

Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham

Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, will today promise that a Labour government would put the voluntary sector "at the centre" of providing services through a reformed NHS.

Speaking this afternoon at a conference in London on health and social care organised by the charity chief executives body Acevo, Burnham is expected to say that the government has neglected the voluntary sector’s role in delivering services through the NHS.

He will set out Labour’s vision for reform, which he will say would move away from large contracts and form long-term "trusted partnerships", including with charities and social enterprises.

He will say that the NHS must be reformed "as a service for the whole person". At the centre of this approach, Burnham will say, will be the voluntary sector.

"For too long, informal carers have been taken for granted and invisible to the system," he will say. "The voluntary sector has been left to work in isolation from the NHS, filling in the gaps.

"The NHS must move away from its approach of offering one-off, short-term contracts to forming long-term trusted partnerships, with the voluntary sector's role clearly set out."

Burnham will also argue that the NHS must not be shy of radical reform.

"The demands of the 21st century mean that the NHS will not succeed if it tries to go it alone," he will say. "In the voluntary sector, it has a partner that shares its people-not-profits ethos."

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