How to step up volunteer services in the NHS

15th January 2020

By Sam Ward, Director of Services and Deputy CEO of Royal Voluntary Service

Last year, the NHS Long Term plan announced a commitment to double the number of volunteers in the NHS over the next ten years. Since then, there has been growing recognition that volunteers can add significant value to hospitals through improving patient outcomes and experience, whilst easing pressure on staff.

We are not the only organisation championing volunteering in the NHS. The King’s Fund has recently published findings revealing over 90% of nurses believe volunteers ‘add a lot of value to patient experience’.  This is alongside work and support from our strategic partner, Helpforce.

We all, however, know that resourcing the expansion and management of volunteers in hospitals is not always straight-forward, even when the tangible benefits are appreciated. The wide range of roles that volunteers can undertake are not always easy to identify.

At Royal Voluntary Service we have looked closely at the challenges to try and provide solutions that meet some of society’s most pressing concerns. With over eighty years’ experience in the volunteering sector and existing services across Trusts and Health Boards in England, Scotland and Wales, we are uniquely placed to offer a solution to some of the key issues faced. We hope to do this through establishing volunteering in a sustainable way in the NHS.

With a focus on supporting the NHS to have ‘more time to care‘, our new proposal ‘Step Up’ will enable Trusts and Health Boards across the country to use the money we raise via our hospital shops, cafes and trolleys and invest it into the on-going management and delivery of high-impact volunteer support throughout hospitals.

This means that by simply having an on-site Royal Voluntary Service shop, café, or trolley hospitals can unlock on-going resource for a trained and managed volunteer team to run services which directly support patients and staff.

We’re excited to make the value and impact of volunteers a reality through ‘Step Up’, something in keeping with our charity’s goal is of supporting and enabling volunteering in the NHS.  We are looking forward to working with our partners, and everyone interested in the NHS’ development, to explore the future of volunteer support.

Find out more here.


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