Volunteer ‘army’ given key NHS role

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Volunteers and charity groups have been handed £2.6m across England in grants to help the NHS tackle winter pressures.

The funding is part of a bid to ease the pressure on services like A&E particularly around busy periods and support the work of paid staff.

In Sheffield, hospital chiefs will expand volunteer roles by a third to more than 1,000. Patients will be given assistance at mealtimes and new “on-call” roles will be developed with helpers paged to respond to the most pressing needs across the city’s hospitals.

In Leeds, Age UK and the British Red Cross will join forces to run a hospital discharge support and A&E admissions avoidance service. The scheme will operate seven days a week including during holidays, with patients supported throughout their stay in hospital and at home.

Brooks Newmark, Minister for Civil Society, said: “Taken together, we believe that these projects will showcase the potential of social action to reduce hospital pressures and improve patient experience, and will be sustained into the long term by local commissioners.”