NHS calls for ‘volunteer army’ to help vulnerable

The NHS is ‘rallying the troops’ for the war on coronavirus, with volunteers being called up to help vulnerable people stay safe and well at home.

The UK is seeking up to 250,000 volunteers to help up to 1.5 million people who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions. Members of the public can sign up quickly and easily at goodsamapp.org/NHS to become NHS Volunteer Responders, and can be called on to do simple but vital tasks such as: delivering medicines from pharmacies; driving patients to appointments; bringing them home from hospital; or making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home.

NHS Volunteer Responders is not intended to replace local groups helping their vulnerable neighbours but is an additional service provided by the NHS. GPs, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, NHS 111 advisers and social care staff will all be able to request help for their at-risk patients via a call centre run by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), who will match people who need help with volunteers who live near to them. Some charities will also be able to refer people to the service.

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. Across the country people are playing their part in the fight against the virus by staying home for the next 12 weeks, to protect themselves, others and the NHS. But many of those shielding will need our support to do that, and by signing up to be an NHS Volunteer Responder, people who are well can do their bit too.

“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. NHS staff are pulling out all the stops to ensure those who need care receive it, and creating a bank of helpers that they can call upon to support their most vulnerable patients through this difficult time is going to be invaluable, so I would urge anyone who can to sign up as an NHS Volunteer Responder today.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock added: “In these extraordinary times, it’s essential that we all pull together as part of the national effort to protect the most vulnerable, reduce pressures on our NHS and care system and save lives. If you are well and able to do so safely, I would urge you to sign up today to help the most vulnerable people in our communities as an NHS Volunteer Responder.

“Your help has the potential to make a real difference to some of those most affected by this outbreak – from delivering essential prescriptions to calling to check on the wellbeing of those self-isolating. I am immensely proud of how the whole country is coming together to help one another – we must continue to listen to and live by the latest medical and scientific advice and through this national effort we can truly make a difference.”

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