More than 7,000 people sign up to volunteer for the NHS in 48 hours after Daily Mail launches Christmas campaign to help save Health Service
- Together they’ve pledged 400,000 hours of priceless support for NHS patients
- Within minutes of the initiative being launched on Saturday more than a thousand kind-hearted readers had signed up
- By last night the NHS volunteer army had swollen to a staggering 7,041
Thousands of amazing readers have rallied to the Daily Mail’s hospital volunteer campaign in just 48 hours.
Together they have pledged 400,000 hours of priceless support for NHS patients and frontline staff.
Within minutes of the initiative being launched on Saturday more than a thousand kind-hearted readers had signed up.
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By last night the volunteer army had swollen to 7,041. As the total rose by the hour:
- The head of the Royal College of Nursing gave her ‘wholehearted backing’;
- Theresa May said the campaign was ‘fantastic’ and the public could play a key role;
- Labour health spokesman Jonathan Ashworth said he had ‘nothing but praise’ for hospital volunteers;
- Celebrities including Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Tom Jones, Chris Evans and Joanna Lumley sent words of support for the campaign, which is a partnership with the charity Helpforce.
We are asking our readers to volunteer for either three hours a week or one eight-hour day a month, for six months.
They can perform a huge variety of hospital roles, from befriending dementia patients to delivering blood on a motorbike. Other positions include playing games with children with cancer or ferrying patients to appointments.
Joanna Lumley delighted Chelsea and Westminster Hospital staff, local residents and patients by participating in the hospital Open Day on June 14th, 2014
Chris Evans and Gerri Horner have also thrown their weight behind the campaign
Readers can register their interest by filling out a form online. They will be matched with an NHS trust, with placements likely to begin from the spring, following the necessary checks and training have been completed.
The volunteers will not replace doctors and nurses but can carry out simple tasks to help patients feel more comfortable.
There are already about 78,000 in hospitals but the ageing population – and the increasing complexity of health needs – means they are in more demand than ever.
Volunteering will play a key part in a policy document to be published later this month, the NHS Ten Year Plan.
And this week a landmark report by The King’s Fund is expected to conclude that hospital volunteers play a ‘vital role’ in improving patients’ experience.
Responding to the Mail’s campaign, Mrs May said: ‘As a country we are rightly proud of our NHS – it belongs to us all and is there for every one of us in our times of need.
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‘It’s fantastic that the Daily Mail is encouraging the public to give up their time to help others, be that by visiting patients, picking up their prescriptions or helping the elderly get around hospital.
‘Day in, day out, our doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals go the extra mile, serving with extraordinary dedication, and making the NHS what it is today. As a Government, we are putting £394m a week extra into the NHS as part of the long-term plan.
‘But we have always been a nation of volunteers. And as this campaign shows, the public can also play a valuable role by offering companionship and support at what can often be a difficult time.’
Writing for the Mail today, the head of the Royal College of Nursing underlines the huge value of volunteers for those patients who don’t have any visitors.
Dame Professor Donna Kinnair, whose organisation represents 435,000 nurses, said volunteers were ‘crucial’ in helping frontline staff meet patients’ needs.
She said: ‘As nurses, because we got to know the volunteers, sometimes over many years, we knew they could be relied upon and trusted – for example by supporting patients who had no relatives or friends to visit, whether that was taking them into the hospital garden and sitting with them, reading to them, cutting their hair and trimming their nails, or simply sitting and providing a listening ear while people reflected on their lives.
‘They had the time and the commitment to do this well, and they crucial in helping clinical staff meet all the needs – physical and psychological – of their patients.
‘But volunteers can be trained to report patient concerns too and bring these to the attention of nurses or doctors. And we shouldn’t forget that many volunteers bring pre-existing life and professional skills to volunteering that can be a great asset in a hospital.’
The pressures on the NHS have never been higher. Figures only last week showed that the numbers of patients going to A&E was 4 per cent higher than this time last year.
A total of 6.18 million people went to hospital emergency units in the three months to September, an extra 252,360 patients compared to the same three months in 2017.
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