NHS Sleep Centre Volunteering Programme

One of the aims of the OSA Alliance is to explore how we can support better resources for sleep services. While we believe that adequate staffing should be achieved by employing more clinically trained personnel, (and that funding should be improved), we also recognise that alleviation of the pressure on staff, particularly those running the sleep clinics, could be achieved by increasing the number of volunteers who support sleep services in NHS hospitals.

We are therefore working with the Sleep Apnoea Trust (SATA) and have devised an awareness programme to encourage members of the public, particularly those with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, to come forward to volunteer for their local NHS sleep service.

The third video in our volunteering series, is an interview with Sam Backway, Sleep Nurse Specialist at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon. Sam talks about her experience of having volunteers to support her team and how it keeps the sleep clinic running smoothly. This video precedes a webinar on Wednesday, 12th June where there will be a panel discussion on how volunteering can support NHS sleep services.

For more details go to the Sleep Apnoea Trust website https://sleep-apnoea-trust.org/get-involved/volunteering/?highlight=Volunteering

In the second video in the volunteering series, we hear from Vickie Hayes, Voluntary Services Manager at Great Western Hospital (GWH) in Swindon. Vickie tells us how the process works at GWH and the important role played by the 400 volunteers that work across 88 different departments and wards in the hospital, as well as the benefits for hospital staff. She also provides reassurance about the rigorous recruitment process, training and induction required before volunteers are recruited.

We are therefore working with the Sleep Apnoea Trust (SATA) and have devised an awareness programme to encourage members of the public, particularly those with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, to come forward to volunteer for their local NHS sleep service.

Volunteers are important because:

    • They provide support to sleep services at a time when patient numbers are increasing, reducing the pressure on staff members.
    • They can improve patient experience.

Volunteering also offers significant benefits to the volunteer:

    • Allowing them to meet new people and make new friends.
    • Gives a sense of belonging, particularly for the newly retired who may feel slightly lost without going to work each day.
    • They are able to give something back to the community.
    • They may also learn new skills and have the opportunity to undertake training in new areas.
    • For others, it can provide a stepping stone into a career in healthcare or provide the impetus for a change of career direction.

The OSA Alliance and SATA believe that volunteers can make a significant contribution to enhancing patient services within the NHS, whether this is keeping patient cups topped up with tea, or supporting some of the administration duties to ensure that sleep services teams can focus on patient care.

Having spoken to NHS Volunteer Services, there is a significant number of people who volunteer their time to work in hospitals across the UK. But sleep is not seen an obvious area in which to offer support, and therefore this important NHS facility receives a disproportionately low number of volunteers.

SATA – which is part of the OSA Alliance – has a membership made up of patients who are both familiar with sleep clinics in general and OSA in particular, and who are also often retired or semi-retired. We are working with SATA to make their members more aware of the opportunity to volunteer for sleep services. However, we want to spread the word further afield and our programme is designed to reach the broader population of potential volunteers.

This section of our website provides the following:

    • Videoed interviews with volunteers outlining their experience and what they believe they can offer sleep services.
    • Interviews with NHS staff to provide their experience of working with volunteers.

This area will be updated as the programme expands and we’ll provide access to webinars and other useful information on what volunteering can bring to your sleep service.

If you come across a patient, or other member of the public, who might be interested in volunteering in sleep services, you can visit the SATA website to find out more.


The OSA Alliance is an umbrella organisation to facilitate collaboration between experts across UK patient and professional sleep organisations. Its remit focuses specifically on obstructive sleep apnoea, where a united approach can facilitate excellence in OSA-related care, education and resource. This website has been developed using the experience, expertise and views of the OSA Alliance. It is supported by funding from ResMed who have not been involved in any aspect of the site development.

Contact Us:

To find out more about the OSA Alliance,
please contact:

Gillian Gibbons
m: 07795 342804