Article: Read government guidance on how the changes affect recruitment to volunteer roles in the NHS.

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Created by Debbie Ambrose
Last updated 2 months ago

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05 March 2024 at 8:57am


Guidance on CQC regulation changes to improve volunteer recruitment

Read government guidance on how the changes affect recruitment to volunteer roles in the NHS.

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05 March 2024 at 11:32am

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I have to admit, I'm quiet disappointed by this guidance. Its a tad misleading, mixes in "employers" responsibilities with volunteer recruiters', and in the "What action should employers take?" section it leads by encouraging still doing full employment history checks. This is at complete odds with the NHS's strategy in the Volunteering Taskforce.

e.g. "Employers should still request full employment history where they consider this is necessary to ensure suitability for the role based on thorough assessment of risk." Is this just employers? Or Volunteer Managers?

"NHS recruiting organisations should continue to obtain information covering a full record of volunteer applicants’ employment and volunteering history where this is relevant and useful as part of their assessment of a candidates’ suitability. This should be proportionate to risk and sufficient to ensure that the volunteer has the skills, capabilities, and experience necessary to undertake the role in question." Yes, but this provides no examples of what is proportionate.

"The NHS Employment Check Standards set out the minimum background check requirements to ensure an individual has the qualifications, competence, skills, and experience which are necessary for the duties performed by them in NHS positions. This includes when appointing individuals into unpaid volunteering roles." however when you go their page it states that "does not apply to those undertaking voluntary roles, due to a change in legislation (January 2024) which removed the statutory requirement for obtaining a full employment history in respect of volunteer workers."

Unless someone is applying for a Trustee role, I can't think of a single role that would require us to know a volunteer's full employment history. What previous roles would prevent them from volunteering? What gaps in employment would be a red flag? Volunteering is perfect for people who cannot or have not been able to commit to contracts, for whatever reason. So gaps or lack of certain jobs shouldn't matter. If you require a previous job title to volunteer, then the role probably shouldn't be voluntary.

Someone who has been an unpaid carer with no work history could make a much better volunteer than someone with a full history. However they may choose to volunteer elsewhere or be put off volunteering at all if asked to provide their entire employment history and explain any gaps.

I think the "What action should Volunteer Managers take?" section should suggest that as soon as possible we review the requirements for our roles and our application forms to remove unnecessary employment checks wherever possible, focusing instead on skills and qualities required for the role, asking applicants to demonstrate these in whatever way they feel is most relevant (whether highlighting past employment, study, volunteering, lived experience, travel, etc). Volunteer Managers may want to look at interviews, questions, tasks, supervised trials, etc which will be much better indicators of suitability than a list of previous positions held anyway.

These changes were brought in to place as part of the NHS Volunteering Taskforce, based on evidence and need, to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and inappropriate, overzealous checks, to get better volunteers, and to encourage more people in to health and care volunteering, and indeed encourage paid work in the sector too. To ignore this change and carry on as usual, will only exacerbate our aging and shrinking paid and unpaid workforces.

12 March 2024 at 9:50am


@Drew RichardsonThanks for sharing your thoughts on this, I was also disappointed. I am left unclear on what exactly has been changed/ relaxed / tightened and question how this guidance helps with wider goals of making volunteering more accessible by removing barriers for people to volunteer. It doesn't seem specific enough for volunteer managers and services.

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