The service of over 70 WRVS volunteers at the Great Western Hospital shop is in question after the NHS Trust contracted in commercial company Compass to run the facility which will include a Costa café and a rebranded shop called Amigo, with the ten paid staff transferring to new management.
The shop closed at the end of February for refurbishment, and will reopen in early April.
Many of the volunteers have worked at the shop since the hospital opened in 2003, and have also provided the very popular trolley shop service around the wards. Talks are underway between Compass, the NHS Trust and WRVS about how the trolley service might continue.
WRVS also operates an escort service in the hospital foyer where volunteers meet and greet patients and carers and guide them to their appointments. Some of the shop volunteers will move over to this service also, although it is not a role that suits everyone.
Expressing their disappointment, a spokesperson for the volunteers who did not wish to be named said: “It’s a big mistake that the trust is making. Lots of the volunteers have been here a long time and they’ve kept the shop going.”