Just 3 days after Mail’s call for volunteers to help NHS, you’re signing up in droves
THE number of readers signed up to the Daily Mail’s hospital volunteer drive has hit 11,000 in just three days.
More than half a million hours of invaluable support have now been pledged to the Christmas campaign since its launch on Saturday.
The response so far means that kindhearted Mail readers have increased the NHS volunteering force, which stood at 78,000 before the weekend, by more than 10 per cent.
By last night, a total of 11,000 people had pledged a combined total of 635,400 hours over six months.
Of this number, 6,650 have pledged three hours a week while a further 4,350 opted to give a day a month to their local trust. As the volunteer army continued to grow:
A major report by leading think-tank The King’s Fund found ‘overwhelming’ support from NHS staff for volunteers;
The head of NHS England said soaring volunteer numbers could mean patients ‘never need to be in hospital alone’;
The campaign gathered cross-party support with the Liberal Democrats saying taxes were ‘not the only way we can support the NHS’;
The charity Helpforce praised the ‘extraordinary generosity’ of readers.
The Mail is asking readers to give their time to the NHS to support patients
and take some of the pressure away from overstretched NHS staff.
The recruitment drive aims to fill important roles such as collecting prescription medications, befriending patients and helping at mealtimes. Former patients can sign up to mentor others or simply to keep lonely patients company.
Last night, Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, threw his weight behind the campaign, which is a partnership with Helpforce, and encouraged readers to ‘heed the call’.
He said boosting volunteer numbers will be essential for the NHS to move forward and deliver ambitious treatment upgrades in areas.
It will play a key part in a policy document to be published later this month, the NHS Long Term Plan.
He said: ‘Volunteers are not substitutes for skilled staff, but bring different talents and experience and, working as valued partners, are crucial to the NHS today and in the future.
‘From helping patients with physio so they can to get home from hospital earlier, to holding the hand of a dying patient who may have no loved one to comfort them in their final hours, they already make a difference. But if enough people gave up their time patients would never need to be in hospital alone. Volunteers can take them to an appointment, make notes during the consultation and even help pick up groceries on the way home.’
We are asking our readers to volunteer for either three hours a week or one eight-hour day a month, for a minimum six months. They will not replace doctors and nurses, but can carry out simple tasks to help patients to feel more comfortable.
Readers can register their interest by filling out a form online before they are matched with an NHS trust.
Placements are likely to begin from the spring, once checks and training have been completed. Sir Tom Hughes-Hallett, founder and chairman of Helpforce, said he was astonished by the response. He said: ‘Helpforce salutes the readers of the Daily Mail. Britain is showing again its extraordinary spirit of community and generosity. Tell all your friends.’
The campaign has been backed by healthcare leaders, unions and celebrities. Lib Dem health spokesman Baroness Jolly added to the cross-party support. She said: ‘Our taxes are not the only way we can support the NHS.’
Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: ‘This is an excellent initiative. Volunteers make a real difference to those involved in both giving and receiving care.’