Woman greets a volunteer as he brings her shoppingFind out how our fantastic volunteers and years of experience are helping struggling A&E departments.

The pressures on A&E are often in the news, but supporting the NHS is not new to us. In fact the Red Cross has been working in health and social care for more than 30 years. And that experience is paying off.

Helping out at A&E

We are currently working in more than 20 A&E departments across the UK, supporting our NHS colleagues who are struggling with high numbers of patients and delayed discharges. How? By helping patients to return home safely or arranging their care elsewhere.

This gives doctors and nurses the confidence to discharge vulnerable patients, safe in the knowledge that the Red Cross will see them home.

Our volunteers take patients home and check they have what they need, from food in the fridge to making sure the heating is on.

Over the next few days our volunteers pop round or give them a call to check they’re OK, helping them get more permanent support if necessary.

Across the UK we also run around 160 home from hospital and support at home services, which help people cope when they return home after a long stay in hospital. These volunteers do everything from collecting prescriptions to offering companionship and giving people the confidence to get back to their daily routines and live independently.

Our mobility aids service loans people wheelchairs, commodes and other equipment to help them cope at home.

All our services are designed to help people maintain their independence. This helps take the pressure off hospitals.

Supporting ambulance services since 1870

Our experience of ambulance work stretches back to 1870, when we drove horse-drawn ambulances in the Franco-Prussian war. Today we offer a helping hand (and not such a bumpy ride!) to 14 ambulance services in the UK.

In some areas we regularly help transport patients to medical appointments. In others we only help when the pressure is on and the service needs more wheels.

If you work for an ambulance trust, find out more about how we could help.

Proud to help patients

In the past few weeks a number of hospitals who do not have existing contracts with us have asked for our help at this busy time.

Juliet Mountford, director of UK service development, said:

“The British Red Cross recognises the huge pressures the NHS is under, but feels strongly that the voluntary sector needs to play a vital role in reducing these pressures and providing much-needed support to people in crisis.

“Our services – offering short term practical and emotional support – can also save the public purse money.

“We have 30 years’ experience running health and social care services, and we reach over 400,000 people annually, making us perfectly equipped to help.

“We want to support our hard-working and essential NHS staff, and are proud to see the people we support being more able to manage their daily activities, and have improved feelings of wellbeing and better coping skills.”

*This blog was updated in January 2017