A SHORTAGE of volunteers means a vital support service for cancer sufferers at Redditch’s Alexandra Hospital is facing reduced operating hours.

The Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Service at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has attracted its lowest number of volunteers in seven years.

It currently has about 30 volunteers but ideally needs 40 in order to provide cover for when people are ill or unable to work.

Kay Tandy, who runs the service, said: “You naturally get some loss – people move on for different reasons but we are just not getting the new blood through the door.

“If we don’t increase our numbers we will have to close more often and that is very worrying for me. We need to be there as a point of contact.

“It does worry me that if the centre is to close more often people are not getting that personal touch.”

Speaking on volunteering, Ms Tandy said: “Most people who volunteer, including those who have had cancer, really enjoy being able to give something back.

"It is just humbling to come and to be able to offer a little bit of support to people who are not in such a good place.

“We will take people of any age.

"Most of the work is welcoming people as they come into the centre, being a friendly face and making people feel comfortable to talk about cancer.”

She added: “We are not clinicians, we are just ordinary people.”

The service, which also has two centres at the Charles Hastings Way hospital, and one at Kidderminster Hospital, helps support patients during treatment and provides aftercare, including signposting other services.

Anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer, or wants more information can call 01905 733837.