27th May 2020
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NHS ‘overwhelmed’ by volunteering response

NHS Shetland has been “overwhelmed” by the response from folk offering to volunteer where they can.

Sally Hall is a staff development manager with the health service, who since the Covid-19 pandemic, has been given the task of redeploying volunteers.

She is part of a diverse team organising the health service’s volunteering effort, with the team compiling a database of those who can help and how they can help.

Ms Hall said the main message was that they were currently at the risk assessment stage, deciding which roles people would be best placed for, and stressed that folk should not expect to just walk into a role.

It was not about “pushing people into roles”, she said.

The team organising the volunteering effort had been “overwhelmed” by the response they had received from the community, according to Ms Hall, with folk from a wide spectrum of isles society offering to help.

Shetland Recreational Trust (SRT) has approached the NHS to see how its staff can help with the volunteering effort, with SRT continuing to pay staff, who would then be deployed into admin and training roles.

Some of these roles are yet to be determined, said Ms Hall, and won’t be until things progress in the weeks ahead. She is focused on getting everything “in place” and “ready to go if we need to”, with potential volunteers being given questionnaires at this stage.

Potential roles include domestic – not at the hospital – but which could include helping out at staff living quarters, for example in the recently requisitioned Anderson High School halls, and administrative roles, as NHS Shetland staff face a burgeoning administrative burden throughout the pandemic.

NHS Shetland has also been approached by a range of former medical staff offering to help, including GPs, dental staff, physios, carers, paramedics, occupational therapists, students and anaesthetists.

Some of these happen to be here with family, some are retired and others have lapsed registration, with Ms Hall saying they would be paid on returning to frontline service if they can or is appropriate.

Ms Hall said they wanted to “make sure people got paid” if people have necessary skills, with the team getting people who are looking to help to think about whether they want a paid role – adding that she did not want it to seem like they were “taking advantage of the community”.

Volunteers will not be placed in patient facing roles.

There has also been “so much redeployment” of clinical staff at the health service, with Ms Hall giving a podiatrist as an example, who could be redeployed to help combat coronavirus as the NHS has stopped all non-essential services.

About Charley-Kai John

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