Monthly Archives: August 2014

Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) to recruit more volunteers to support clinical staff

Volunteering in the NHS is always likely to be a difficult debate. Not that long ago the new head of NHS England in his inaugural speech described volunteers as an essential source of ‘renewable energy’ for the health service.  This example in Cambridge seems to be one of the first indications of what that might mean in practice.  Here there are apparently already 700 registered volunteers but the trust’s head of volunteer services is reported on this Cambridge Network News site saying “we can swell the volunteer numbers and transform the way they work, to provide much more effective support to clinical staff …  We want to create a situation where volunteers are partners and actively engage them in designing services and delivering patient experience.”

The range of volunteering activities currently covers the long established ‘traditional’ areas associated with visiting patients, library services and hospital guides with many volunteers helping out for a few hours a week.  What will be interesting is whether the range of activities extends (not that long ago in different hospital trust my mum was ‘registered’ for an MRI scan by a volunteer who took her details and issued her with a medical allergy wristband!).   Given the already multidisciplinary nature of healthcare, the way in which volunteers fit within the complex work environment will also be one we will be watching with interest.

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Should volunteers be rewarded? Debate over possible council tax rebate

The Guardian here summarises different viewpoints on the Local Government Association’s proposal that “Community Heroes” should be rewarded by way of Council Tax discounts of up to 10%.

Main concerns raised in the Guardian piece concern the inevitable red tape that would be involved in monitoring this and more fundamentally about whether volunteers would see this as an unnecessary reward that might change the nature of volunteering.  Here for example is Westminster City Council’s response on actions they already take to encourage volunteering.

Indeed there are already some powers in place for local authorities to offer discounts to, for example, special constables.   Other’s have suggested other ways of recognising volunteers can be found by way of local discounts and voucher schemes.

The key issue here seems to be negotiating fine line between ‘recognising’ and ‘rewarding’ volunteers efforts, whilst not romanticising or trivialising notions of ‘altruism’.