Roy Lilley, a former NHS Trust chairman has said that everyone knows the NHS is “under pressure” but encouraging volunteers to help out is not about “amateurs doing bypass surgery”.
NHS Health chiefs are encouraging people leaving hospital to give up some time in future to help vulnerable patients and keep them company.
It is part of a ten-year plan as NHS England backed a campaign to be launched by Helpforce, a charity that wants to increase volunteering in hospitals.
Mr Lilley told talkRADIO’s Matthew Wright: “We all know that the NHS is under pressure, as since 2010 it has had pretty much flat-line funding.
“The NHS was born in 1948 and between 1948 and 2010, the average uplift in funding was about 4% per annum.
“In 2010, the Government did a handbrake turn on all expenditure – flat-line funding – and under 2% from 2010 to today.
“Next financial year, when the Government is putting in this £20bn in the next five years, it is still brings the average in under 4%.
“We know the NHS is up against it financially and we know it is up against it with demand.”
He added: “The NHS needs all the help it can get and we are not talking about amateurs doing bypass surgery.
“What we are saying is that if you can spare some time, there are a lot of things you can do to help patients have a better hospital experience.”
'Challenging and time-consuming'
Mr Lilley added that the scheme shows how people with “life experience” have a lot to offer.
“The idea is very good and it is already working in some places. Up in Liverpool, a hospital has a great end of life team that is composed of families who have lost a loved one, been through the experience, and can say to someone else ‘I have trodden down the same path’,” he said.
“There are lots of people who are volunteering in the dementia sector, which is such a challenging and time-consuming role as well.
“People who have life experience have an awful lot to offer people who are suffering the same way.”