latest health care news


Why we can’t afford to overlook NHS volunteering in this General Election

Mark Lever, chief executive, Helpforce


If you put Brexit to one side it is quite clear that the NHS has been the most hotly debated topic during the build up to the General Election on 12 December. Each party is highlighting the pressure the NHS is under, whether that be from funding pressures, staff vacancies or increased demand for the services being provided in an increasingly stretched system.

Significant pledges to increase staff numbers, make new investment in infrastructure, and increase funding to support running costs abound.

What is in no doubt is that the staff working in the NHS are under increasing pressure and this impacts their ability to provide the support and care to patients that they would wish to.

One element of staff and patient support that is missing from the current discourse is volunteering. At Helpforce we believe this is a mistake, as we see first-hand the power of volunteering to transform the health and care of patients in the NHS.

Whether it is Bleep volunteers ensuring patients receive their medication more quickly from the pharmacy, volunteers supporting the patients to eat their meals on wards, or volunteers providing transport home from hospital, and ensuring patients who are on their own are settled in at home after a hospital stay.

READ MORE: NHS volunteering providing valuable contributions

READ MORE: Helpforce to launch training programmes for NHS volunteers

Well trained and well supported volunteers reduce the time patients stay in hospital by making sure that they maintain their nutrition and hydration. They help them collect their medication and speed up the time it takes to leave hospital, and are supported to settle in when they return home.

At Helpforce we work with many NHS Trusts and their volunteering managers to ensure that volunteers make the greatest impact possible on the health and wellbeing of patients and staff. We are always impressed by the commitment and passion everyone involved with volunteering has for the NHS. But it doesn't run on fresh air.

Managing large teams of volunteers to ensure that they are well trained and supported does require investment. At a time when politicians are discussing where they will invest public money if they come to power, Helpforce would like to make a plea on behalf of everyone involved with volunteering in the NHS. We ask that the vital role volunteers play in our health services is not overlooked, or a nice to have. We ask the next Government to increase investment in volunteers to ensure that volunteering services are not just maintained, but expanded and embedded in our health and care in the long term.

We know it’s good for patients, we know it’s good for staff and we know it’s good for the volunteers too. I cannot think of a better set of outcomes for an investment!


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


national health executive tv

more videos >

featured articles

View all News

last word

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad, president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), sits down with National Health Executive as part of our Last Word Q&A series. Would you talk us throu more > more last word articles >

health service focus

View all News


NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

23/09/2019NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

Reason to celebrate as NHS says watching rugby can be good for your mental ... more >
Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >


Organ Donation Week: Having the conversation

11/09/2020Organ Donation Week: Having the conversation

As part of Organ Donation Week, NHE’s Matt Roberts spoke with our Man... more >

the scalpel's daily blog

Psychological safety in a world of Covid-19

17/09/2020Psychological safety in a world of Covid-19

Catherine Harrison, Policy Advisor, NHS Providers As we move into winter amid the prospect of a second wave of Covid-19, the focus on health and care workers’ wellb... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >