HelpForce launches to maximise potential of volunteers in the NHS

A new organisation has been set up by Sir Tom Hughes-Hallett to accelerate improvements in the involvement of volunteers in the NHS. Backed by many healthcare and voluntary sector leaders, HelpForce wants to double the number of volunteers working in the NHS by 2021 so that more patients and NHS staff can benefit from their time, help and care.

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT) is one of the 12 acute NHS Hospital Trusts working with HelpForce to develop new volunteer roles and create a best practice model for volunteering in hospitals and other patient settings. 

HelpForce is starting with a focus on critical moments in hospitals where staff and patients would benefit from additional support, for example at meal times or discharge from hospital. It is also prioritising volunteer help for patients who do not have their own family or wider support network.

HelpForce’s Founder Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett, who is Chair of Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust Hospital and was previously CEO of Marie Curie, has seen the difference that volunteers can make.  He said:

“NHS staff deliver brilliant medical care but both the system and our front line teams are under intense pressure. While we currently benefit from over 78,000 people volunteering with acute NHS Trusts they are rarely integrated into NHS strategies or service delivery plans and this is a missed opportunity. 

“We know the benefits that well managed staff-volunteer teams bring, with substantial improvements in patient care sitting alongside positive feedback from NHS teams. We want everyone to experience these benefits as quickly as possible and have developed a focused five year plan for HelpForce to unlock the potential of volunteers across the country.”

Jan Bloomfield, director of workforce and communications at WSFT, said: “We are so proud to have more than 400 volunteers who dedicate their tireless energy to helping both our patients and our staff have the best experience they can.

“In 2016 our team of volunteers gave a record-breaking 47,358 hours of time to the Trust, with 49 long service awards distributed to volunteers who, between them, had given 530 years of service, including one with 35 years’ service.

“Our new voluntary services manager Ian Mckee has recently joined the Trust, and is looking forward to implementing new innovations and helping integrate our volunteers into local NHS community services as well as in the acute setting of our hospital.”

If you are interested in volunteering you can contact –
Telephone: 01284 713169