DORSET’S biggest healthcare provider will receive a £75,000 grant from the NHS to develop a volunteer service for end-of-life care.

Helpforce, a national organisation working to double the number of volunteers working in the NHS by 2021, received 115 applications from trusts around the UK to be involved in its new Volunteering Innovators Programme.

Dorset HealthCare was one of just 12 trusts selected to take part. The grant it receives will enable local volunteers to play a bigger part in end-of-life care in the county.

This should enable more people to die at home, if that is their wish.

The trust will work with local partner organisations to develop the project, initially in Purbeck, over the next 18 months. It will also seek to expand volunteer transport schemes and explore how volunteers can support urgent care in the community. The project will start in April, with the first cohort of volunteers will be recruited and trained by the end of June.

Wareham Surgery GP Dr Ann Marshall said: “I am thrilled that our project has been successful in securing this funding. It means we can develop the service properly and in a timely way so that it can quickly start making a real difference to local people at the end of their lives and for their families.”

Helpforce said Dorset HealthCare’s volunteer initiatives “have been identified as having the potential to make a major impact to benefit staff and patients.”

And Paddy Hanrahan, managing director of Helpforce, said: “We received a huge number of applications from trusts wanting to become part of our new programme, which is testament to the enthusiasm for the development of effective volunteer roles.

“Working closely with leading trusts, voluntary sector partners and NHS England, we can create a future where safe and reliable volunteering in the NHS is part of our everyday lives, helping patients and our brilliant frontline staff to get the very best from the health service.”

As well as the £75,000 grant, Dorset HealthCare will have access to a range of supporting services and digital tools.