Hospital Navigators

The Hospital Navigator scheme is our longest running intervention, first commissioned in 2022. It follows a model used elsewhere in the country placing trained volunteers into A&E units to offer support to those admitted in “risky circumstances”.

Five hospitals serve as the main receiving emergency units covering the entire Thames Valley area.  In particular, the John Radcliffe Hospital (part of Oxford University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust) which is a regional trauma centre and takes patients from across the whole Thames Valley and beyond.

We commission five local voluntary sector organisations who work in partnership with the local A&E department. Each recruits volunteers, provides training, coordination and ongoing support. 

Hospital Navigators work in the A&E department alongside clinical/nursing teams. They offer a friendly face, a conversation and support to appropriate patients during the time spent waiting or after they have been triaged and treated. 

Navigators seek to give immediate support and take a burden off the NHS teams.  They aim to make the contact a “reachable moment” – a point when someone is more reflective on what’s happening in their life.  Navigators try to explore the wider circumstances to their admission and discuss what help they may need.

Often, patients are admitted with mental health issues, have experienced domestic abuse, have struggled with substance abuse or been involved in fights.  But there are often underlying issues including homelessness, unemployment, relationship breakdown.

Volunteer Navigators seek to signpost to other support services available to them – they will often follow-up with the person after they’ve been discharged and help to make contact with support services.

Some providers offer a longer-term mentoring role, helping support beyond that point of hospital admission.

In June 2024, an evaluation of the scheme undertaken by Oxford Brookes University will be published.

The five hospital sites and the corresponding delivery partners are: