Support from the UK government for overseas volunteering through programmes like the Health Partnership Scheme has been steadily increasing.

  • In 2003, the Department of Health produced an International Humanitarian and Health Work Toolkit to guide and encourage trusts to engage in international development. This set out a series of benefits that NHS organisations and professionals could gain from such activities, as well as a checklist of considerations to encourage employers to be more supportive.
  • Five years later, the UK Government responded positively to the Crisp Report (2007) Global Health Partnerships: The UK contribution to health in developing countries, which looked at how UK health expertise could be used to help improve health in developing countries and championed the role of International Health Links. The Government agreed to support the development of Links via a new grants scheme (the International Health Links Funding Scheme) and information centre relating to health partnerships.
  • A further commitment of the response was to produce a Framework for NHS Involvement in International Development, to encourage a more systematic approach to volunteering activities. Published in 2010, the framework was explicit about the desirability of NHS organisations engaging in overseas partnerships and provided greater clarity on how NHS agencies and individuals can best maximise their potential to contribute in a sustainable and appropriate way to capacity building in developing countries.
  • In 2011, the government’s support increased further and the Health Partnership Scheme, funded through the Department for International Development (DFID), was created to build on and scale up the health partnerships model.
  • THET welcomed this independent report that recommended renewing the Health Partnership Scheme. Find THET’s official response to the report here.