Former Telford hospital boss calls on Government to set up national NHS Volunteer Reserve

The former chief executive of Telford's Princess Royal Hospital is calling on the Government to set up a national NHS Volunteer Reserve.

David Sandbach, former chief executive of Telford's Princess Royal Hospital
David Sandbach, former chief executive of Telford's Princess Royal Hospital

David Sandbach says it will ensure communities are ready to cope efficiently and effectively with emergencies which threaten the functioning of the NHS and social care in the future.

He has also sought support in letters to the leaders of Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Councils, as well as Shrewsbury's MP Daniel Kawczynski with a request he takes the matter up with Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson.

Mr Sandbach said: "Coronavirus has had major implications on NHS emergency and planned services.

"It is widely recognised that the NHS and care services workforce has gone well above and beyond expectations when performing their duties to patients and vulnerable people.

"In response volunteers have been drafted in at short notice to fill gaps and supplement a variety of services needed to keep the NHS and social service provision going in really very difficult and trying circumstances.

"Support for the NHS is remarkable. In March, 400,000 people joined the NHS volunteer army in one day.

"There is a willingness among former NHS employees and members of the public to rally round the NHS and care services during a pandemic."

He says it is now necessary to prepare for the future and he has called on the Government to set up a system which would allow the rapid deployment of NHS volunteers able to take up any duties required.

By preparing in advance, Mr Sandbach says there would be a list of people already trained and with all necessary recruitment checks done.

Risks

He has suggested that NHS employees who retire should be automatically asked to join the NHS Volunteer Reserve and could be offered a form of payment in return.

Explaining his proposal, Mr Sandbach said: "All individuals who answered the call to volunteer in support of the NHS during the Covid-19 crisis should be formally invited by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to join the NHS Volunteer Reserve.

"Individuals who join the NHS Volunteer Reserve will agree to undertaking around 10 hours training each year.

"Depending on what the volunteer is expected to do, this training will be face to face, blended learning or online learning."

He said the group could support clinical and non clinical services, adding: "Having a standing 'army' of dedicated volunteers who have been vetted and trained to do specific roles will enhance the speed and quality of our national or local response to any further pandemic or in health emergencies.

"It will reduce the various known risks associated with starting from scratch during a pandemic emergency, engender confidence among volunteers and members of the general public, and pride in national citizen solidarity during times of crisis."

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