The King’s Fund launches NHS volunteering report
The King’s Fund has launched a report on the role of volunteers in the NHS.
Commissioned by the Royal Voluntary Service and Helpforce, it shows the perceptions of frontline staff working in acute care.
It describes the operational pressures which they face, how they understand the roles and value of volunteers and what gaps there are that volunteers could help fill.
The report’s findings were drawn from a survey, series of semi-structured interviews and a non-systematic literature review.
The report found that there was strong support among frontline staff for volunteers and that they appreciate the ways that they enhance the experiences of patients and staff in busy hospitals.
The report’s key findings include:
- Frontline staff recognise the broad range of activities carried out by volunteers in NHS hospitals
- The overwhelming majority of frontline staff agree that volunteering in hospitals adds value for patients, staff and volunteers
- The majority of frontline staff enjoy working with volunteers, with some variation between different staff groups
- The main challenge for frontline staff is a lack of clarity regarding role boundaries
The report makes the following recommendations to senior managers in NHS acute hospitals:
- Ensure there is a formal volunteering strategy in all NHS acute care trusts. Any strategy needs to be adequately resourced, and volunteer managers supported
- Be proactive in considering how to extend the range of current volunteering roles
- Ensure that the good practice guidance for recruiting and managing volunteers in the NHS is implemented
- Ensure frontline staff are empowered and trained to have supportive working relationships with volunteers
- Develop clear lines of communication between hospital volunteer services and frontline staff teams
- The role of volunteers in the NHS: views from the front line
- Make it clear to staff that volunteers play a key role in enhancing patients’ experiences alongside paid staff
- Recognise and reward volunteers for their unique contributions to the working of hospitals