NHS Healthcare Improvement Scotland

Our contribution to Scotland’s Volunteering Action Plan.

The NHSScotland Volunteering Programme forms part of the Community & Engagement & System Redesign directorate at Healthcare Improvement Scotland. We published our new strategic vision for 2022-28 in August 2023.

We will drive forward the volunteering agenda in NHSScotland through evidence, improvement and assurance.  Meaningful engagement matters and volunteering is one of the best ways for people and communities to engage with health & care services. It supports the delivery of high quality, safe care that is person-centred. It improves the health and wellbeing of volunteers and communities.

We will achieve our vision by:

  1. Building and sharing evidence demonstrating the impact of volunteering.
  2. Using knowledge and expertise to improve volunteering.
  3. Providing assurance that volunteering in NHSScotland is high quality, safe and effective.

We are contributing to Scotland’s Volunteering Action Plan (VAP) through our strategic vision and our wider work:

Awareness & Understanding of Volunteering

  • Building awareness and understanding of the VAP through the NHSScotland Volunteering Advisory Board, our Volunteering Practitioners Network and Community of Practice. We also shared learning from the Inclusive Volunteering workstream via a webinar during Volunteers Week 2022 which was attended by over 100 participants.



  • Reviewing the membership and function of the NHSScotland Volunteering Advisory Board, repositioning it to provide leadership for volunteering across NHSScotland.
  • Supported a number of NHS boards to develop their own volunteering strategies, making recommendations that strategies are aligned to the VAP.



  • Facilitated the development of a national question set to evaluate and improve volunteer experience, piloted with five NHS boards in 2023.



  • Launched an open access NHSScotland volunteer induction training course in 2022, and published an evaluation report in 2023.


Capacity building

  • Developed a comprehensive guide to support best practice in NHSScotland Volunteering, launching in October 2023.
  • Supported a pilot in partnership with NHS Tayside, Helpforce and NHS Education for Scotland to explore the potential of volunteering supporting the patient discharge process. The evaluation of the pilot was published in February 2023.

Volunteering in NHS Scotland: Exploring Best Practice

It is the role of the NHS Scotland Volunteering Programme to support and encourage continuous improvement in volunteering practice. With this in mind, we’ve created a new resource ‘NHS Scotland Volunteering – Exploring Best Practice’ which offers information, advice and practical support right across the volunteer management process. The resource is intended to support:

  • Staff who may be new to volunteering within NHSScotland as they begin to navigate their way through the complex world of volunteer management, and
  • Staff who are experienced in volunteer management but may be reviewing their own processes and practices for improvement purposes. 

It can be used as a reference guide to assist in planning daily work, to support the development of new volunteering services and help identify opportunities to improve existing services.

The NHS Scotland Volunteering Programme team would like to extend their sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to the development of the resource.