Trusts will be given an extra £1.2m to fund 700 volunteers to help ease pressures on accident and emergency departments.

The Cabinet Office has supplied the funding, which will be given to 29 trusts to fund three-month volunteer schemes.

Older woman and volunteer at home

Volunteers could make sure patients are comfortable at home after leaving hospital

Charities Age UK, the Royal Voluntary Service and British Red Cross will work with trusts to supply volunteers and set out their roles.

The volunteers’ roles will differ according to the particular needs of an area but examples of the help they could provide include making sure patients are comfortable at home after leaving hospital and regularly visiting vulnerable people.

Accident and emergency departments have struggled in recent months with record levels of demand on their services.

Only 35 major A&Es met the four hour target to see, treat, admit or discharge a patient within four hours last week, according to the latest figures from NHS England.

Health minister Lord Howe said: “The NHS has worked with expert charities including Age UK, British Red Cross and the Royal Voluntary Service for decades to make sure patients get specialist extra support when they most need it.

“Around 700 volunteers will help mostly older patients once they leave hospital as part of this £1.2m project, which is on top of the record £700m that the government has provided for 700 more doctors, 4,500 more nurses and 5,000 more beds.”