Health secretary John Reid has set out his vision for the
voluntary sector as agents who will help deliver public health
messages to marginalised groups, writes Craig
Reid said one role of the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS)
would be to tailor state provision into “personalised,
people-centred services” that suit different groups of
He invoked Labour heroes Keir Hardie and Nye Bevan to argue that
the party’s roots lay closer to voluntarism than to
centralised state provision, which was the product of two world
The existing structure of public services can
“unintentionally exclude or overlook some people,” he
Voluntary sector groups grew from the needs of marginalised
groups, are trusted by them, so are in an ideal position to extend
the reach of the state sector into a wider community, he said.
“These characteristics can help to unlock people’s
motivation to gain more control over their own health.”
Volunteers can act as “mentors” for patients and
carers, assess their homes for accident risks, help them engage
with state services and explain the “often daunting”
messages given out by health professionals, said Reid.
Reid set no target for VSC participation in service delivery,
but noted that by 2008, independent sector providers will provide
15 per cent of all NHS procedures.