Ambulance volunteers are an important part of delivering high quality services to the public. People are motivated to volunteer for many different reasons; giving back to their community, learning new skills, meeting new people, and for some it is the opportunity to understand what the sector is like as an employer.
Since the launch of the National Ambulance Volunteering Strategy ambulance trust volunteering teams have been working to simplify the transition from volunteer to career, especially for clinical, patient facing roles.
We know that many people seek out volunteering opportunities in different sectors to build their skills, broaden their experience and try out different roles to decide where they want to pursue a career. The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) wants to signpost these interested people towards the ambulance service and show them what we have to offer.
Volunteering information on the AACE website Ambulance Volunteering explains the different roles available in each ambulance trust. Volunteers can transition to careers in the ambulance service or the wider healthcare sector, drawing on their valuable experience.
We want to see inclusive volunteering opportunities for NHS ambulance services, ensuring careers in the ambulance sector are showcased and a new, enhanced pipeline for the future ambulance workforce, whether clinical, call taking and dispatching or in support functions, is developed.
Since the AACE national volunteering strategy was launched in January 2023 teams have been working nationally and locally to ensure volunteers are recognised as reliable, skilled individuals who are representative of the communities they serve. Our ambulance volunteers see ambulance services as inclusive community organisations that they are proud to volunteer for.
Encouraging careers with the ambulance service
The ambulance sector provides a range of clinical and non-clinical volunteering opportunities which give people a great insight into working in healthcare and the emergency services.
Two ambulance services have been piloting ‘volunteer to career’ programmes and we are confident that in time, our strategy will help encourage more volunteers who wish to transition into employment within the NHS ambulance sector via apprenticeships or other routes to join us.
Equally, we welcome volunteers who want to work elsewhere while developing skills or pursuing an interest with us.
National Apprenticeship Week 2024
Ambulance services offer a range of apprenticeship programmes for people joining their services, across clinical, administrative, contact centre and support roles. These offer the opportunity to step onto a career pathway, gaining a recognised qualification which can lead them into a lifelong career in healthcare.
The Chair of the National Education Network for Ambulance Services, Pauline Cranmer QAM, Director of Clinical Education, London Ambulance Service NHS Trust said:
“Paramedic apprenticeship programmes offer a great opportunity for staff within ambulance services who may not have thought university was an option for them. The apprenticeship career pathway can take someone from not having any clinical experience through to becoming a paramedic, with a degree in Paramedic Science.
“Apprentices are supported with time away from work to develop their skills and knowledge, in the classroom and on placements in ambulances. The paramedic apprenticeship means you can now become a qualified paramedic and achieve the same high standard of training and education as those who take the standard degree route.
“We know there is a national shortage of paramedics, so, by introducing the paramedic apprenticeship programme in partnership with universities, alongside the more traditional graduate entry route we aim to help expand opportunities to increase the paramedic workforce. The apprenticeship is an excellent opportunity to develop our own talented and dedicated staff and support them to progress in their career.”
The NHS ambulance sector has long recognised the significant benefits that volunteering brings to patients, staff, organisations and volunteers themselves. Thousands of ambulance volunteers have given their time over the past 20 years in clinical roles, especially as Community First Responders helping save lives in remote towns and villages across the UK and in non-clinical roles such as volunteer car drivers and community trainers.
Volunteers do not replace the regular workforce; they enhance the care that local ambulance services offer to patients and the public, support the wellbeing of full-time ambulance staff and act as positive ambassadors for the service.
Those interested in volunteering with NHS ambulance services can find contact details for their local NHS ambulance service here Ambulance Volunteering.
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