Daily Mail

11,000 HEROES

Just 3 days af­ter Mail’s call for vol­un­teers to help NHS, you’re sign­ing up in droves

- By Kate Pick­les and So­phie Bor­land Medicine · Society · Volunteering · England · National Health Service in England · United Kingdom · Partido Liberal Democrático · Judith Jolly, Baroness Jolly

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.’

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