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My week volunteering on the healthcare frontline

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: A great place to work
Henry Wadsworth in an operating theatre dressed in surgical scrubs
Henry, ready for his day in theatre

As much as some people can’t bear to watch them, I’ve always had a particular interest in hospital programmes. After watching BBC2’s Hospital documentary in January 2019, I got in touch with Royal Liverpool University Hospital (RLUH) CEO Aidan Kehoe via LinkedIn, to ask if it would be possible to use my five days’ volunteering leave there. Even though we hadn’t connected on LinkedIn at this point, and I was a complete stranger to him, he responded the very next morning.

After a few months of organisation, I was lucky enough to spend five days at the RLUH in May. 

Being in an office role within the Health Improvement Directorate at Public Health England, I chose to use my five days’ volunteering leave to go on to the frontline of the healthcare industry to see what the day-to-day running of a hospital would be like.

During my time at the RLUH, I spent time variously shadowing and assisting healthcare assistants, nurses, doctors, surgeons, pharmacists, consultants and administration staff. They were based in different parts of the hospital, including Accident & Emergency, the Acute Medical Unit, operating theatres, the Post-operative Critical Care Unit, the High-Dependency Unit, Intensive Care, Endoscopy, Patient Flow, pharmacy, digital, IT and back-of-house operations. I was able to attend and observe several live surgeries. Each day was eye-opening and made me appreciate the skill and dedication of the teams I saw in action. I would never know what to expect, let alone who would walk through the doors at any given time. 

I can’t express enough how incredible the RLUH is. I learnt so much about our UK health system, the day-to-day running of a real-life hospital, and the workings of the human body. If anyone else is thinking of making use of their volunteering leave in this way, I’d highly recommend it. The experience was rather surreal, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and one I’ll never forget. 

Every civil servant has an amount of ‘special leave’ they can take each year to undertake activities such as participating in public duties and volunteering. I’d strongly suggest looking into this opportunity in your department or agency – in whatever field interests or inspires you.

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  1. Comment by Gavin Thomas posted on

    Happy New Year Henry!

    May I commend you to undertake such a worthy voluntary opportunity

    Thank you for sharing with us your personal reflections and observations.

    I would agree that undertaking such voluntary work can bring with it a great sense of achievement.

    For a number of years, I have been involved in a voluntary capacity with a local conservation group who help with the management of the local Heath. Not only does my level in involvement give me an element of personal satisfaction, but that it also helps to provide a great opportunity to meet some fantastic and interesting people.

  2. Comment by Shuhab Hamid posted on

    Well Done Henry! I have been using my 5-6 days per years for a number of years in my active role as a School Governor. It certainly has given my a great insight into school life behind the scenes and supporting the SLT in achieving its is also a great way of using transferable skills and develop new well as seeing the Bigger Picture...

    • Replies to Shuhab Hamid>

      Comment by Henry Wadsworth posted on

      Thanks Shuhab and yes I couldn’t agree more. Great to hear you’ve been using yours!

  3. Comment by Dawn Whipp posted on

    Wow, what an incredible thing to do. You have truly inspired me!

    • Replies to Dawn Whipp>

      Comment by Henry Wadsworth posted on

      It was an incredible experience, thank you Dawn!