More than 700,000 people have signed up to a volunteer scheme to help the NHS fight the coronavirus, Downing Street confirmed.
Volunteers are performing ‘simple but vital tasks,’ to help the 1.5 million people in the nation who are shielding themselves from the coronavirus because of underlying health issues.
The NHS ‘army’ is performing a variety of functions, including delivering medicine from pharmacies to their recipients, driving patients to and from appointments, and making phone calls to check on individuals isolating at home who may be lonely.
If you've not yet signed up, but would like to, please visit https://t.co/sZR7TnmMwB. You can help by doing simple tasks like:
💊 delivering medicines from pharmacies
🚘 driving patients to appointments
📞 regularly calling people who are on their own. #YourNHSNeedsYou
— NHS England and NHS Improvement (@NHSEngland) March 26, 2020
The call to action came from Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, last Tuesday, with the target number of 250,000 being surpassed in just 24 hours, with three people enlisting every second after the announcement.
Speaking at the government’s daily COVID-19 news conference on Wednesday when 4o0,000 people had signed up, Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered ‘a special thank you to everyone who has now volunteered to help the NHS’, adding that they would be ‘absolutely crucial’ in the fight against coronavirus.
After being asked if he was surprised by such an overwhelming response, the NHS’s national medical director, Stephen Bowis, explained how he believes ‘at times of crisis, people come together’, adding:
I know there are vast numbers of people looking to help neighbours, vulnerable people who live close by, so no it doesn’t surprise me at all. In times like this […] we see outbreaks of altruism, people wanting to help, so it’s a wonderful response in the same way that all those doctors coming back, nurses coming back. I’m bowled over by it.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and NHS Director of Primary Care, said that ‘across the country’ people are combating the virus by staying home to slow the rate of transmission. However, Kanani also added that ‘by signing up to be an NHS Volunteer Responder, people who are well can do their bit too’.
— NHS England and NHS Improvement (@NHSEngland) March 27, 2020
Volunteers must be 18 or over, fit and healthy, and pass a DBS check, whilst those in higher-risk groups, including those over 70, pregnant, or with underlying medical conditions can offer support by telephone.
NHS Volunteer Responders will be referred to a ‘responder app’ that they can switch on to say they are ‘on duty’ when available.