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Harding plans volunteering scheme for NHSI staff to ‘serve on the frontline’ during winter

The chair of NHS Improvement (NHSI) has announced that she wants to open a volunteering scheme for the organisation’s staff to experience the challenges of primary care in winter.

Speaking at the Health Foundation conference in London on Tuesday, attended by NHE, Baroness Dido Harding outlined her intention to “change the culture” of NHSI.

She suggested creating a scheme that would see NHSI staff members perform administrative and background services to help frontline staff in January and allow them to understand the demands of the profession in winter.

Baroness Harding said: “The way we change the culture as managers throughout the NHS is seeing it the way our patients are seeing it. It is something I am desperate to try and make happen.

“And the trusts we’re talking to, not universally but a lot of them, can’t understand why it would be helpful—they’ll be thinking ‘God, I don’t know if I want the regulator in here at 10 o’clock on a Saturday night in January,’ and yet I am absolutely certain that seeing is believing.”

The chairwoman noted that duties could involve errands as simple as making cups of tea around the hospital, and just being humanly available in general.

“You have no idea how hard this is. My own organisation can’t see yet how it will make us work better and just think I’m trying to supply some kind of free labour, and actually what I’m trying to do is change the culture of NHSI,” she added.

Over last winter the NHS saw a surge in demand for care, with the number of people coming into A&E rising to more than 5.8 million. In fact, it was described by many as the hardest winter on record, with trusts now scrambling to tackle the “bulging” waiting list backlog.

Baroness Harding has been chair of NHSI since October 2017. The regulator is responsible for overseeing foundation trusts and NHS trusts, as well as independent providers that provide NHS-funded care.

Image credit: jacoblund, iStock images

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