Sue volunteers at her local GP Surgery and has been putting her skills to good use deciphering handwritten patient notes and putting them on patients’ computerised records.

What is your role?  I volunteer as a General Practice Support Volunteer to help the Surgery catch up with admin tasks.  I do one session a week, which can be moved if I have something else I need to do on my regular day.

What attracted you to this role?  It is right up my street. I am a retired pharmacist and have a continuing interest in healthcare. When I heard of this role from the Volunteer Matching Service, I was keen to take it up and do whatever I could to help the NHS get back on its feet after the pressures of the pandemic.

What sort of thing have you been doing? The practice uses computerised patient records but had a backlog of paper-based records relating to newly registered patients. This included handwritten doctors’ notes going back years. My long career as a pharmacist means I am used to deciphering doctors’ handwriting and I’m also comfortable with computer systems, so I have been summarising those old records and entering them onto the computerised system.

What might you do once you finish that task? I am very happy to carry on volunteering there. Other things I might do are to help update patient records for changes of contact details or Next of Kin. Another role might be to help the Surgery reconnect with long-term chronically ill patients who have not been in contact since the start of the pandemic.

I am also interested in social prescribing and may get involved in helping the Surgery expand its resources in that broader area of healthcare.

What difference are you making to the Practice? I think my particular mix of skills has been a bit of a bonus to the Practice. I have been able to make real progress with the backlog of paper records, with the result that there’s a much more comprehensive record on the computer for those newly registered patients.

What has the experience been like so far? It is a really positive experience. I feel very valued and feel part of the team. The people I work with are fantastic and there’s a great feeling of camaraderie.

Has anything surprised you about the role? It has really opened my eyes as to how much goes on behind the scenes to make a GP surgery work. There are many unsung heroes there. I was also struck by just how much everyone puts the patient first.

Would you recommend volunteering in this type of role?  Yes – I have already recommended it to friends. You don’t need to have a healthcare background or experience. You’ll get all the training you need, and everyone is helpful.


Additional information:

If you are looking for a volunteering role, you can:

Check out the latest volunteering roles in Buckinghamshire which are published on national databases Do-it and Reach Volunteering.

Updated on September 18, 2023

Image courtesy of St Francis's Children Society