A ‘volunteer army’ is no substitute for the doctors and nurses the NHS needs | Hannah Jane Parkinson It is admirable that people want to help our health service, but the shrunken state needs to do far more too
When is a record number of people volunteering to help the NHS not as great as it seems? Perhaps when the health system is teetering on the brink. Volunteering loses a bit of that feelgood factor when the stakes are as high as this.
The Daily Mail has launched a Christmas campaign for more volunteers to help out, reporting that 11,000 people have signed up in a matter of days. This kind of volunteering is mostly a good and valuable thing. A study by the King’s Fund thinktank of 300 NHS staff, reflecting on the roles of the current 78,000 volunteers, found that a third of staff said that volunteers helped them to free up time and a quarter said that volunteers helped care for patients.
Now, thanks to Brexit, we are both losing these skilled practitioners and putting them off joining in the first place. The Guardian