VHS works actively to promote and support the engagement of volunteers in hospitals and other healthcare settings. With an emphasis on identifying ‘what works well’ our Clear Pathway project has set out to encourage more strategic engagement, collaboration and shared learning between NHS and third sector organisations, building on strengths to improve the effectiveness of the third sector volunteer contribution and the care and safety of patients.
In August 2020 VHS published an Evaluation Report on the Clear Pathway strategic guidance for NHS Boards on best practice in working with third sector partners to engage volunteers in NHS settings. The Clear Pathway Guidance itself was published in April 2018, when the Scottish Government’s National Clinical Director Jason Leitch wrote formally to every Health Board, commending the guidance to them: Scottish Government Letter April 2018
Clear Pathway provides strategic guidance for NHS Boards concerning the management of volunteers deployed in NHS settings who are not directly recruited, managed or trained by NHS Boards. It is designed to support Boards to manage the risks and capitalise on the opportunities associated with third sector volunteering so that it is always safe, effective and person-centred, in line with the quality ambitions of NHSScotland.
The guidance is the outcome of the Clear Pathway project, which was funded by the Scottish Government Directorate for Healthcare Quality and Improvement and designed in collaboration with the National Group for the Volunteering in NHSScotland Programme and Scottish Health Council
Practical work (from May 2016) focused on identifying and mapping existing practice, issues and developments. During 2017 we developed and co-produced the guidance with our partners in Scottish Health Council, the National Group (Volunteering in NHS Scotland Programme), our Project Reference Group, and Scottish Government.
We wish to thank all who contributed to the Clear Pathway project, including Lesley Munro for her initial development work and Richard Hamer who wrote the guidance. The guidance could not have been produced without the sustained support, advice and assistance with drafting of Alan Bigham and Margaret Young, to whom we are most grateful. We thank everyone who was interviewed or provided case studies and other material, and all those who contributed to our Kitchen Cabinet and the ‘Volunteering, The Golden Thread in Health’ conference. Thank you, Neil Galbraith, Angela Bonomy, Joanna Swanson, Shulah Allan, Jane Ferguson, Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation, Jullie Tran Graham and Chris Burghes, for a wealth of advice and encouragement. Thank you to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, for access to their comprehensive document ‘Formal Partnerships with Third Sector Organisations and Other Guests’.
We acknowledge the invaluable support of the Clear Pathway project’s reference group members:
- Alan Bigham – Programme Manager, Scottish Health Council
- Mark Collins – Patient Rights and Participation Policy Manager, Scottish Government
- Norman Craig – Volunteer, Royal Edinburgh Hospital and trustee, VHS
- Elanor Cormack – Volunteer Partner, Royal Voluntary Service
- Marion Findlay – Director of Services, Volunteer Edinburgh
- Allan Johnstone – Acting Chief Executive Officer, Voluntary Action Scotland
- Linda Jones – Voluntary Organisations Contracts Manager, NHS Ayrshire and Arran
- Paul Okroj – Chair, Scottish Volunteering Forum and Head of Volunteering, Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland
- Tracey Passway – Clinical Governance and Risk Management Team Lead, Clinical Governance and Risk Management Team, NHS Tayside
- Claire Stevens – Chief Officer, Voluntary Health Scotland
- Diane Waugh – Bliss Scotland Coordinator, Bliss
- Margaret Young – Strategic Lead for Volunteering, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
Finally, we thank Playlist for Life for permission to use the picture taken by Derek Prescott, on the front cover.
The Clear Pathway guidance sets out best practice necessary to make sure volunteering in the NHS is always safe, person-centred and effective. It provides strategic guidance to NHS Boards in relation to the management of volunteers deployed in NHS settings who are not directly recruited, managed or trained by the relevant NHS Board. The joint foreword commends the guidance to Boards and was written by Professor Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director, Scottish Government and Neil Galbraith OBE, the then Chair of NHS Western Isles.
The guidance lists five steps that NHS Boards can take to develop better strategic oversight of indirect volunteering:
- Building a close relationship with the third sector
- Reviewing the current scale of indirect volunteering
- Assessing the costs and benefits of indirect volunteer roles
- Developing formal agreements with third sector organisations
- Implementing effective monitoring arrangements
The two most important actions that an NHS Board can take are to develop formal agreements with third sector organisations deploying volunteers in NHS settings, and to provide a clear point of contact within the Board at a senior level for third sector partners.
Clear Pathway delivered the following activities:
- Gathered intelligence about the nature and extent of third sector volunteering in NHS settings across Scotland, including challenges, current practice and opportunities. This was done through face to face and telephone interviews and electronic correspondence with a wide range of stakeholders, in both the third sector and NHS
- Examined existing reports, guidance and legislation relevant to volunteering in NHS settings
- Undertook and facilitated engagement, which included a ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ discussion, supporting NHS and third sector participants to identify their current levels of engagement around volunteering, as well as gaps and opportunities for improving partnership working around volunteering.
- Held a major conference in September 2017 and published presentations and a Key Messages report, all accessible here: Volunteering The Golden Thread in Health
- Scoped and co-produced guidance for NHS Boards, in close collaboration with the National Group (Volunteering in NHSScotland), Scottish Health Council, the Project Reference Group and Scottish Government.
- Held a major conference in June 2019 and published presentations. a series of blogs and a Key Messages report, all accessible here: Valuing and Sustaining Volunteering in Health
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