The Duchess of Cornwall visits Leicester General Hospital

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and Elaine Paige OBE, joined forces at the Leicester General Hospital, to launch Royal Voluntary Service’s call for more volunteers to support the NHS.

Promoting the charity’s nationwide On Ward Trolley Shop volunteer recruitment campaign, The Big Push, Royal Voluntary Service President, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, and Ambassador, Elaine Paige OBE, took the iconic trolley out on to the hospital ward, where they met and served patients. They teamed up with trolley volunteer veteran, John Thompson (82 years old) who has been taking out the trolley in the Leicester General Hospital for 15 years.

John is one of nearly 80 Royal Voluntary Service volunteers who support the Hospital Shop and Trolley Service at the Leicester General Hospital. The trolley currently goes out goes five days a week and visits 13 wards each day where it is well received by patients, family and friends and nursing staff.

The volunteers take trolleys loaded with reading materials, healthy refreshments, treats, toiletries and other essentials around hospital wards. They make time to stop and chat with patients, helping ease the anxiety and sometimes loneliness experienced during a hospital stay, particularly by older people.

The Duchess of Cornwall visits Leicester General HospitalThe charity is now calling for more people to step forward to support the trolley service with trolley volunteer roles available up and down the country from Edinburgh, to Bangor to Brighton.

The service is all the more vital as NHS nurses working in acute Trusts in Britain, recently identified two fifths of patients see no visitors at all during their stay in hospital which can have a detrimental effect on their health and speed of recovery.

The Duchess of Cornwall visits Leicester General Hospital
"Although you are surrounded by people and the excellent NHS staff, being in hospital can make you feel lonely as well as vulnerable. What struck me most about the trolley volunteers I met in the hospital was their desire to raising the patients’ spirits. They’re not just there to sell some toothpaste or a healthy snack, they also take the time to chat to patients and by doing so, are a welcome distraction."

Elaine Paige OBE, Royal Voluntary Service Ambassador

"I’ve been a patient in this hospital myself and after retiring was keen to give something back, so it was the perfect volunteer choice for me. I enjoy chatting to the patients and it gives me so much pleasure knowing I’ve brightened up a patient’s day. I get as much out of it as I put in and find myself looking forward to the days I volunteer."

Trolley volunteer, John Thompson

"We’ve got thousands of volunteers in hospitals all over the country working hand-in-hand with staff teams to ease pressure on the NHS. The trolleys we run on ward are just one example of the many ways our volunteers support patients and free up staff so they can concentrate on clinical care. We now need more trolley volunteers to step forward which is why I’m delighted that HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and Elaine Paige took one of our hospital trolleys out and saw for themselves the difference they make. With their support for our Big Trolley Push campaign, we hope to recruit many more of these NHS trolley heroes."

Catherine Johnstone CBE, Chief Executive of Royal Voluntary Service

"It has been an honour to welcome HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and Elaine Paige OBE at one of our hospitals. Our staff regularly go above and beyond to provide caring at its best for our patients. The support they have from volunteers is hugely appreciated and makes a real difference every day to the patients in our care. I’d like to wholeheartedly thank them all for their service."

Karamjit Singh CBE, Chairman of University of Leicester Hospitals Trust

Royal Voluntary Service (or WVS as it was originally known) has supported the NHS since its inception. The charity’s trolleys were introduced onto hospital wards in 1946 and over the years have become a familiar and welcome sight for patients, visitors and staff alike.

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