This latest report from the King’s Fund finds that volunteers in hospitals play a vital role in improving the experience of patients and relieving pressure on frontline staff.
The report, commissioned by Royal Voluntary Service and Helpforce, is based on a survey of nearly 300 hospital staff in England including nurses, doctors and support staff – the first time that NHS frontline staff have been surveyed for their views about volunteers.
It finds very strong support for volunteering among frontline staff, who report that hospital volunteers provide vital practical help such as picking up medicines and doing tea rounds, as well as companionship, comfort and support to patients – ‘bringing human kindness to a busy ward’. This frees up time for pressurised frontline staff to prioritise providing clinical care and improving staff experience, as well as the patient’s experience of care.
The authors also identify a number of challenges hospital staff face when working with volunteers and make a number of recommendations to NHS trust leaders to help them maximise the impact of volunteers in their hospitals.