Volunteers To Save NHS?
NHS leaders are backing a plan that would see more and more volunteers take it upon themselves to provide support to the NHS in key areas.
Volunteers have always been there in the background for the NHS. However, they had been limited to roles such as running hospital shops or taking teddies and flowers around the wards. This could all be about to change with a new community interest company, Helpforce, founded by philanthropist Sir Tom Hughes-Hallett.
Mr Hughes-Hallett has said: “Generally there’s a lot of ‘nice’ stuff. But is it high impact? No – it’s at the margins. I thought we could really shift the dial on this, recast volunteering for the 21st century and help the NHS more effectively tackle the ever-mounting health challenges it faces.”
But what does that actually mean? Are we going to start seeing volunteers reach for the stethoscopes? No, instead volunteers will be strategically deployed to various “pinch points” throughout the patient experience.
Helpforce will be masterminding the pilot programme and overseeing the development of similar programmes around the country.
With staff numbers dropping trusts are happy for all the help they can get their hands on – paid or not. 12 trusts have already signed up to the network that aims to double the number of volunteers currently available and swell the ranks to 150,000 by 2021.
“That will give the NHS one volunteer for every 10 staff. I think that will make a huge difference to the stress and exhaustion of the workforce,” added Sir Tom Hughes-Hallett.