The president of the Royal College of Physicians Andrew Goddard supports the Daily Mail’s campaign with charity Helpforce to boost volunteer numbers in the NHS
The NHS needs an army of volunteers to cope with the burden of the UK’s rising elderly population, a leading doctor says.
The president of the Royal College of Physicians, which represents more than 35,000 doctors, said it was an ‘inescapable truth’ that the health service would increasingly require more help as demand continues to soar.
Professor Andrew Goddard joined a raft of health professionals supporting the Daily Mail’s campaign with charity Helpforce to boost volunteer numbers.
Professor Goddard, a consultant physician and gastroenterologist at Royal Derby Hospital, said he had personally seen the difference that volunteers can make.
He echoed the findings of a landmark report into volunteering published this month, which recognised the ‘vital role’ volunteers play but cautioned that they could never take the place of trained staff.
Respected think-tank the King’s Fund found that the overwhelming majority of hospital staff felt volunteers improve patient experience in busy hospitals, while also relieving pressure on them. Professor Goddard said: ‘The inescapable truth is that the NHS needs volunteers, and that demand will only increase as a result of this country’s ageing population.
Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett who has setup ‘Helpforce’ a volunteer hospital volunteer organisation to help assist the NHS staff and patients. Pictured: Sir Thomas at the Chelsea and Westminster hospital with patient John Mackay
‘I firmly believe that everyone can benefit here. The benefit to patients is clear but I’m sure that the volunteers benefit too – from meeting people they wouldn’t otherwise have met, and from helping to brighten their days.
‘Having volunteers also embeds the local community in our work and allows young people to get experience in the NHS, which can lead to careers they might not otherwise have had.’
The University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust has more than 1,000 volunteers, between the ages of 16 and 84. They assist with a range of jobs such as breastfeeding support and running a library.
Experts have repeatedly warned that the number of over-65s in the UK is expected to rise by more than 40 per cent by 2039, to reach more than 16million.
The number of over-65s in the UK is expected to rise by more than 40 per cent by 2039, to reach more than 16million
As a result of the Mail’s campaign, more than 24,000 readers have so far pledged more than 1.3million hours of their time to assist the NHS.
Stars including JK Rowling, Sir Cliff Richard, Geri Horner, Sir Tom Jones and Joanna Lumley have lent their support to the campaign, alongside Prime Minister Theresa May, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens and the Royal College of Nursing.
The backing of the Royal College of Physicians comes after officials announced plans to increase the NHS’s voluntary workforce from the current 78,000 to 156,000 over the next three years.