The value of realising the full potential of volunteers in the NHS
20th March 2019
Having worked in the NHS for many years, Lesley Watts, chief executive of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has always been aware of the great support that volunteers provide to patients and staff, but she says the health service could be doing much more to realise their full potential.
The catalyst for change came when I met with our chairman Sir Tom Hughes-Hallett. He joined Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust after leading Marie Curie, where he had witnessed first-hand the profound positive difference volunteers could make.
Sir Tom knew that while healthcare leaders were providing fantastic medical care, areas around the edges of core healthcare were under pressure. He knew the vital part that volunteers could play to support patients and staff—including getting people to and from hospital or assisting patients and families as they navigated their way through the healthcare system—and he wanted to expand and better integrate volunteer roles across the health service.