New volunteer led service supports patients on waiting lists

24th January 2023

DSC 3236

A volunteer lead project at George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, supported by Helpforce, has engaged with over 2,800 patients*, who were either on the waiting lists or were discharged from hospital, making sure they received the right help when needed.

This project saw the Trust set up the Contact Centre in October 2021, volunteers made check-in phone calls to ensure patients have everything that they need following their discharge. The project was so successful that its service has been expanded with volunteers now also making phone calls to patients on waiting lists. The phone calls allow volunteers to identify any issues or concerns that patients have, which then can be escalated to a clinician, or can be signposted to a volunteer in the community who can help with issues, such as isolation, loneliness, transport, shaping up for surgery, etc.

In December 2022, the team of seven volunteers gave 34 hours and made 254 phone calls to patients. An average of 10 per cent of the patients each month are identified as needing additional support either from within the hospital or the community, such as: PALS, medicine helplines and social prescribers. This targeted support is designed to reduce readmissions, ED admissions and potential escalation of problems for patients that are on waiting lists. Thanks to those phone calls, several instances where safeguarding issues required urgent attention were addressed.

Christian Hancox, Voluntary Service Officer at George Eliot Hospital said: “This is a fantastic volunteer lead project that gives George Eliot Hospital the opportunity to reach out to our patients on waiting lists and post discharge, helping to identify any support needs - whether that be through the NHS services or linking with support available in the community. Our aim is an enhanced patient experience, helping to prevent readmissions, assist our patients to wait well –ultimately to ease pressure on our NHS. Our project is responsive and innovative, our volunteers really do make a difference!”

The Contact Centre at George Eliot Hospital is part of a wider integrated health and care pathway that brings together impactful volunteer roles into a single pathway that supports patients both within the hospital and in the community. This pathway plays an important part in Helpforce’s Back to Health campaign, which focuses on supporting patients to wait well, get well, recover well, and live well, through the support of volunteers.

Health and care organisations who join this campaign will receive support to grow and accelerate the impact of their volunteering. If you would like to learn more about the Back to Health campaign or how to join this campaign, please visit https://helpforce.community/back-to-health.

*: Figures from April – Dec 22