Chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings has called on nurse managers to encourage and support more voluntary workers in health and care settings.
Marking the start of Volunteers Week, she praised the country’s three million often “under-appreciated” volunteers who gave their time to support health, welfare and disability organisations.
“There are a lot of under-supported volunteer programmes that lack leadership and management”
Writing in a blog, she said: “They add value to many vital services, helping people recover from ill health sooner and supporting better experience of care – and for that we all owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
“I am calling on health and care leaders around the country to not only go out and meet volunteers and thank them, but also to begin to consider how their organisations’ volunteering services can be developed to ensure they thrive and reach their full potential,” she said.
The CNO noted that volunteering was a “key element” of NHS England’s Five-Year Forward View strategy, which should be embedded in plans for new models of care.
She cited recent research from the King’s Fund think-tank that suggested around 24 million British adults would consider volunteering in the health and care sector, adding that
“We need to… ensure we enable this to happen,” she said. “There are some excellent examples of volunteers having a hugely positive impact, but there are also a lot of under-supported volunteer programmes that lack leadership and management.
“If we are to be successful in recruiting more volunteers and spreading even further the good work they do, it is critical that we don’t miss opportunities and that we realise the full impact and potential of volunteer groups,” she said.
“We should explore innovative forms of volunteering that reach into communities or links to social prescribing; we need well supported and trained staff and volunteers alongside safe and professional practice,” she added.
Professor Cummings said NHS England would be hosting a free event on 11 July for trusts, vanguard sites and other providers to help more of them achieve the quality standard Investing in Volunteers.
- Volunteers Week 2016 runs from 1-12 June