Published: 01/07/2004, Volume II3, No. 5912 Page 23

Thank you, Tim Higginson, for your 'Speak out' column on volunteering (page 23, 3 June).

Without doubt, NHS staff contribute greatly to their communities through volunteer activity of the kind highlighted, and in many other ways, too.

He is right, too, that such volunteering contributes significantly to the personal development of staff and thereby feeds back positively into their performance as NHS employees.

Employers can further enhance this 'virtuous circle' by considering the introduction of employer-supported volunteering (ESV) schemes.

A wide range of employers in the private and public sectors already operate ESV schemes and have seen the spin-off from such official facilitation and recognition of volunteering by their employees.

In Scotland it is a welcome move that the performance assessment framework on patient focus and public involvement now incorporates references to the implementation of volunteering policies throughout NHS Scotland.

Philip Bryers Senior development officer Volunteering in Health Volunteer Development Scotland