Expert advice

Workforce: Unpaid volunteers an attractive option for NHS, but need training

Policy attention is increasingly focusing on the contribution of volunteers to help expand the NHS workforce. But like all health service employees they must be trained to be part of the team, says workforce expert James Buchan

Policy attention is increasingly focusing on the contribution of volunteers to help expand the NHS workforce. But like all health service employees they must be trained to be part of the team, says workforce expert James Buchan

The winter flu crisis has reinforced the urgent need to expand the NHS workforce, with policy attention increasingly focusing on the contribution of volunteers. At a time of staff shortages and cost containment, the attraction of using unpaid local volunteers is all too obvious.

The draft NHS workforce strategy for England, published at the end of last year, sets out proposals to ‘better support the education and training needs of volunteers, carers and patients’.

High impact

Health Education England, which devised the draft strategy, says it will

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