More than 400,000 people have signed up to be volunteers for the NHS in response to the coronavirus crisis.
The call to action came from Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Tuesday, who requested for 250,000 people to donate their time to help the 1.5 million people isolating for 12 weeks in an attempt to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Stephen Powis, NHS England medical director, said: “Overnight 170,000 people have signed up – that’s three a second to help the NHS.
“It’s an absolutely astonishing response.”
At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a total of 405,000 people had now volunteered.
Anyone who is over the age of 18, fit and healthy and non-symptomatic can offer their time to the scheme and help to deliver shopping to vulnerable people, transport patients to and from hospital, drive medicines and equipment to NHS facilities and check up on isolated individuals by telephone.
What is the NHS Volunteer campaign?
The NHS Volunteer campaign is a new initiative which looks to help the 1.5 million Britons with underlying medical conditions who have been asked to stay at home for the next 12 weeks.
It is also designed as a support structure to reduce pressure on the NHS and its staff.
What will an NHS Volunteer do?
NHS Volunteers will be carrying out “simple but vital” roles.
Community Response volunteer: This role involves collecting shopping, medication or other essential supplies for someone who is self-isolating, and delivering these supplies to their home.
Patient Transport volunteer: This role supports the NHS by providing transport to patients who are medically fit for discharge, and ensuring that they are settled safely back in to their home.
NHS Transport volunteer: This role involves transporting equipment, supplies and/or medication between NHS services and sites, it may also involve assisting pharmacies with medication delivery.
Check-in and Chat volunteer: This role provides short-term telephone support to individuals who are at risk of loneliness as a consequence of self-isolation.
Once you have registered and checks are complete you will be provided a log-in to the GoodSAM Responder app. Switch the app to ‘on duty’, and you’ll see live and local volunteer tasks to pick from nearby.
Who can become an NHS Volunteer?
Volunteers must be 18 or over, and fit and well with no symptoms. Those in higher-risk groups (including those over 70, those who are pregnant or with underlying medical conditions) will be able to offer support by telephone.
The majority of tasks can be undertaken while social distancing.
Patient transport drivers will require an enhanced DBS check and will receive guidance to do this role safely.
If you do become ill you can pause your volunteering.
How many NHS Volunteers are required?
The Government are looking for 250,000 people to help with the effort.
Why does this matter?
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and NHS Director of Primary Care, said: “Coronavirus is the biggest challenge we have ever faced, which is why we’re rallying the troops and telling the public: your NHS needs you.
“This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments where a single action from one person can be the difference between life and death for another, and simple acts of kindness are going to make all the difference in keeping some of the most vulnerable people well and out of hospital.”
How do I sign up?
You can sign up to become an NHS Volunteer Responder at goodsamapp.org/NHS.