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Hidden Workforce Report - Skills for Health

Hidden Workforce Report - Skills for Health

‘The

‘The Hidden Workforce’- Volunteers in the Health Sector in England 1. Introduction Background to the project 1.1 When the National Health Service was created in 1948 there were many who thought that the arrival of a comprehensive state-funded health service free at the point of care for all, would mean the end of the charitable and voluntary healthcare on which so many people had depended for centuries. They were wrong. Voluntary and charitable effort continued and has grown in recent years as successive governments have sought to enhance the role of what it now generally refers to as ‘The Third Sector’, particularly for the delivery of major contracts. And volunteers continue to make a major contribution to the nation’s healthcare, with a number of commentators pointing to the scope for volunteers to do much more. 1.2 Though a good deal is known about the paid workforce within the Third Sector, very much less is known about volunteers – the unpaid workforce – and the contribution they make to the whole health sector. Skills for Health has therefore commissioned this scoping research in order to deepen its understanding of how many volunteers there are working in the sector, who they are and what they do, and to review the skills and employment issues relating to their work. It wants to know whether it should give greater priority to the skills needs of volunteers, in parallel to its work on the skills needs of employees. 1.3 Skills for Health commissioned The Mackinnon Partnership to undertake this research on its behalf. It defined three aims for this project, as follows: • understand the nature, range and direction of healthcare provision by the voluntary sector in England working across both the NHS and other healthcare providers; • clarify the main characteristics of the voluntary sector workforce, its current and future size and the types of roles undertaken. Estimate the ‘in kind’ contribution of the voluntary healthcare sector in £s to the healthcare system within England; • highlight the main skills issues, both development and skills utilisation impacting on the voluntary health sector. 2

‘The Hidden Workforce’- Volunteers in the Health Sector in England Scope and definitions 1.4 In our initial discussions with Skills for Health, we agreed that there was some risk that estimating the financial value of volunteers’ contribution (the second aim) could be very time-consuming, to the detriment of potentially more fruitful aspects of the research. We re-balanced the project accordingly. 1.5 This report covers England. Skills for Health has commissioned related work for Northern Ireland and Wales. 1.6 There is very much more written about the Third Sector and healthcare than there is about volunteers and healthcare. Our focus is the latter: people who volunteer, regardless of what type of organisation they volunteer for. We created the following diagram at an early stage in the project to clarify these distinctions. Fig 1.1: Volunteers work across all sectors Public Sector Other 3 rd Sector, eg social enterprise charities Private Sector Voluntary Sector Community Sector = volunteers (The graphic is not intended to be to scale). 3

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