NHS VOL­UN­TEER ARMY TO DOU­BLE

As 23,600 of you sign up for Mail cam­paign, health chiefs un­veil ma­jor new drive to boost pa­tient car­ers

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By So­phie Bor­land Health Editor

THE NHS wants to dou­ble its vol­un­teer army in recog­ni­tion of the huge ben­e­fits for pa­tient care, the Daily Mail can re­veal.

Of­fi­cials plan to in­crease the vol­un­tary work­force from the cur­rent 78,000 to 156,000 over the next three years.

The news comes as sup­port is grow­ing for the Mail’s hospi­tal vol­un­teer cam­paign, which was launched at the be­gin­ning of De­cem­ber in part­ner­ship with Help­force – a fast-grow­ing health ser­vice char­ity. By last night a to­tal of 23,655 read­ers had signed up, pledg­ing a com­bined to­tal of 1,344,132 hours in help and sup­port.

The cam­paign has been backed by JK Rowl­ing, Clau­dia Win­kle­man and Sir Cliff Richard along­side Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May and the Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury.

NHS chiefs be­lieve vol­un­teers have a huge im­pact on pa­tients and hospi­tal staff, and at the same time greatly en­hance their own lives.

While older vol­un­teers stay ac­tive and con­nected, younger re­cruits gain in­valu­able skills

and ex­pe­ri­ence for their fu­ture ca­reers. The am­bi­tion to ex­tend vol­un­teer­ing is set out in NHS Eng­land’s Long Term Plan, a blue­print of the health ser­vice’s pri­or­i­ties for the next ten years.

Due im­mi­nently, the plan will urge hos­pi­tals to re­cruit many more younger vol­un­teers, par­tic­u­larly those with men­tal health prob­lems, learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties or from de­prived com­mu­ni­ties.

The doc­u­ment will also re­veal there is cur­rently a huge vari­a­tion in the pro­por­tion of vol­un­teers in hos­pi­tals across the coun­try.

While some hos­pi­tals have one vol­un­teer for ev­ery two per­ma­nent mem­bers of staff, oth­ers have just one vol­un­teer per 26 em­ploy­ees.

NHS Eng­land will ad­dress this stark dif­fer­ence by en­cour­ag­ing hos­pi­tals to of­fer more vol­un­teer­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and by in­vest­ing £2.3mil­lion in Help­force.

The NHS Long Term Plan was meant to be pub­lished this week but is now likely to be post­poned un­til the New Year due to on­go­ing wran­gling over Brexit.

It will out­line what pa­tients can ex­pect from the NHS over the next decade, how care will im­prove, and how the ex­tra £20.5bil­lion a year

‘Greater ac­cess for younger vol­un­teers’

promised by the Gov­ern­ment will be spent.

The sec­tion on vol­un­teers, seen by the Mail, high­lights how vol­un­teer­ing can ben­e­fit both pa­tients and the vol­un­teers them­selves.

It states: ‘Staff, pa­tients and vol­un­teers ben­e­fit from well-de­signed vol­un­teer­ing ini­tia­tives. Vol­un­teers con­trib­ute across a range of roles, from first re­spon­ders and care com­pan­ions to trust gov­er­nors and link work­ers (who pro­vide emo­tional and prac­ti­cal sup­port). They en­able staff to de­liver high-qual­ity care that goes above and be­yond core ser­vices.

‘Lo­cal vol­un­teer­ing al­lows older peo­ple to stay phys­i­cally ac­tive and con­nected to their com­mu­ni­ties, and younger peo­ple to de­velop skills and ex­pe­ri­ence for work and ed­u­ca­tion.

‘But not all NHS or­gan­i­sa­tions of­fer these op­por­tu­ni­ties for their lo­cal com­mu­nity, as the ra­tio of staff to vol­un­teers in acute trusts ranges from 2:1 to 26:1.’ The sec­tion adds: ‘We will back the Help­force pro­gramme with £2.3mil­lion of NHS Eng­land fund­ing to scale suc­cess­ful vol­un­teer­ing pro­grammes across the coun­try, as part of our work to dou­ble the num­ber of NHS vol­un­teers over the next three years.’

The doc­u­ment urges hos­pi­tals to ‘give greater ac­cess for younger vol­un­teers’, par­tic­u­larly those in de­prived ar­eas or those with men­tal health is­sues, learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties and autism.

Si­mon Stevens, NHS Eng­land’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, said: ‘ Vol­un­teers have made an im­mense con­tri­bu­tion to the NHS since its foun­da­tion and, as part of the NHS long term plan, we want to dou­ble the num­bers who give their time, skills and ex­pe­ri­ence to help pa­tients and staff. That is why NHS Eng­land is whole-heart­edly back­ing the Daily Mail and Help­force’s Christ­mas cam­paign to en­cour­age more peo­ple to give back to a ser­vice that does so much for their coun­try.’

Ear­lier this month a study by the King’s Fund found that the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of NHS staff be­lieved vol­un­teers had a huge im­pact on pa­tient care. The think­tank’s sur­vey of 300 front­line health work­ers showed 90 per cent thought vol­un­teers added ‘a lot of value to pa­tients’.

Help­force plans to use the money it re­ceives from NHS Eng­land to pri­ori­tise vol­un­teer­ing roles in endof-life care, pro­vid­ing trans­port to ap­point­ments and in im­prov­ing mo­bil­ity for long-stay pa­tients.

Sir Thomas Hughes- Hal­lett, founder and chair­man of Help­force, said: ‘We are de­lighted to have this re­newed com­mit­ment to vol­un­teer­ing from NHS Eng­land, which will help en­sure that many more pa­tients and staff can ben­e­fit from the pos­i­tive im­pacts of vol­un­teer­ing.

‘Vol­un­teer­ing is good for the peo­ple be­ing sup­ported, health and so­cial care ser­vices, char­i­ties, the vol­un­teers them­selves and the com­mu­nity as a whole.

‘Vol­un­teers have al­ways been at the heart of the NHS and this im­por­tant back­ing will help to un­lock their full po­ten­tial.’

Last night, Help­force said 23,655 peo­ple have pledged a com­bined to­tal of 1,344,132 hours of help over six months through the Mail’s cam­paign. The fig­ures in­clude 13,682 who have pledged three hours a week and 9,973 who have pledged one day a month.

÷The NHS is to cre­ate a ‘Na­tional He­roes’ Ser­vice’ by spend­ing £10mil­lion on ex­pand­ing its men­tal health help for mil­i­tary veter­ans.

It comes in re­sponse to con­cerns that as many as 5 per cent of Bri­tain’s 2.6mil­lion for­mer ser­vice­men and women are in­creas­ingly be­ing af­flicted by post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der.

It will mean ex­pan­sion for the NHS Veter­ans’ Men­tal Health Tran­si­tion, In­ter­ven­tion and Li­ai­son Ser­vice, which works in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties to as­sess the men­tal health needs of those leav­ing the Forces.

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