Volunteers have a vital role to play in the NHS

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Despite its ills, we still are blessed with a health service that is superior to that in most countries of the world. We pay a lot of money for it and generally it looks after us well when we are under the weather, as well as helping prevent us from becoming ill in the first place.

Its thousands of professionals, from surgeons to nurses, from porters to cleaning staff, from doctors to paramedics, are regularly praised for their devotion to duty.

Readers of our daily letters pages will know that often we publish heartfelt tributes from grateful individuals or families.

So it is easy sometimes to forget that every day the National Health Service is greatly enhanced by people who don’t earn their living within it, but who willingly give up hours of their spare time in voluntary roles.

Today we feature one such group shortly after it celebrated its first anniversary.

Not everyone will have heard of the Service by Emergency Rider Volunteers charity (Serv) whose members volunteer to take vital items such as blood, samples and breast milk to and from hospitals on evenings and at weekends.

The Hampshire branch of Serv is one of the latest to have been formed. The organisation itself began 30 years ago and now has 10 branches covering 16 counties.

In the scale of things, its work in Hampshire does not make a huge difference to NHS expenditure here, but it does save Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust around £30,000 a year, which is still a significant figure.

Just as importantly, it demonstrates the belief that so many people have in our NHS.

There can be no greater nailing of colours to the mast than to give up one’s free time in order to contribute to the good of society.

We hope that our Agenda article today will garner more support for this worthwhile service, be it from people who want to volunteer themselves, or from readers who wish to make a donation to Serv’s running costs or to support the organisation’s charity night at South Parade Pier, Southsea on November 27.

Serv deserves support.