West Suffolk Hospital is one of 12 NHS trusts helping to create a national ‘best practise model’ for volunteers in hospitals.
Helpforce is a new organisation which wants to double the number of volunteers in the NHS by 2021 so that more patients and staff can benefit from their time, help and care.
It was set up by Sir Tom Hughes-Hallett, chairman of Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust Hospital, and the 12 acute NHS hospital trusts are working with it to develop new volunteer roles and practises.
HelpForce is starting with a focus on critical moments in hospitals where staff and patients would benefit from more support, for example at meal times or on discharge.
Sir Thomas, who was previously chief executive of Marie Curie, said: “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. 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.”
Jan Bloomfield, director of workforce and communications at WSH, said: “We are so proud to have more than 400 volunteers who dedicate their tireless energy to helping both our patients and our staff.
“In 2016 our team of volunteers gave a record-breaking 47,358 hours of time to the trust.”