NHS staff

Volunteer initiative launched to combat NHS workforce shortage

A volunteering organisation has launched a new initiative today, which will help five NHS trusts in England. It will encourage the trust’s volunteers to think about a long-term career in the NHS. The ‘Volunteer to Career’ programme is thought to tackle the workforce shortages in the NHS.

Clinicians will lead the projects in collaboration with the volunteer services and the five trusts. The ‘Volunteer to Career Pathway’ will also be designed by the clinicians, providing an opportunity for volunteers to develop their skills for career roles within their local trust.

The initiative hopes to see an increase in the number of volunteers with an interest in pursuing a health and care career after volunteering. Helpforce are running the scheme, which is funded by the Burdett Trust for Nursing. The non-profit organisation will support the trusts by providing a wide-range of help.

Maeve Hully, Director of Volunteering at Helpforce, said: “This is a very important scheme to address one of the biggest challenges the NHS is facing - a cycle of shortages and increased pressures on staff, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“NHS hospitals, mental health services and community providers are now reporting a shortage of nearly 84,000 FTE staff, severely affecting key groups such as nurses, midwives and health visitors.

“With clinicians leading this project, clinical teams and volunteer services will work together to bring greater opportunities for staff and patients. And at the same time, it enables volunteers to explore different career pathways within the NHS.”

The main focal areas of the projects will include, mental health, patients with special needs, A&E, community health services, and paediatrics. The idea is that this could lead to volunteers specialising in these areas, such as Play Specialism and Mental Health Support/Peer Workers.

Clinicians leading the projects will provide information, support, and guidance through a series of sessions. This support will enable the development of the projects, whilst offering a mentored experience.

Anne Doyle, Volunteering Manager at Alder Hey Children’s NHS FT, said: “We are delighted to be part of this new and fantastic project which will provide experience in Health Play Specialism.

“Our volunteers play an integral part at Alder Hey, and helping them move into an NHS career, as many have done here, is incredibly rewarding and important for both our volunteers and for the NHS”

The trusts taking part include:

  • Camden and Islington NHS FT
  • South Tees Hospitals NHS FT
  • Bradford District Care NHS FT
  • Alder Hey Children’s Hospital
  • Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
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