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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 nation is looking for 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 and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “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.”
Working with the RVS and the GoodSAM app – a digital tool to help people offer their services to people in need – the NHS is recruiting people who are feeling well to help with simple but crucial health tasks.
Catherine Johnstone CBE, Chief Executive, RVS, said: “Human compassion comes to the fore at times of great crisis. We saw that when Royal Voluntary Service was first founded during the outbreak of WW2 when a million women stepped forward to help those in need.
“Since then our volunteers have continued to provide vital support in hospitals and in communities; helping people get back on their feet after a personal crisis. In 2020 we find ourselves once again facing a daunting national challenge. We are proud to support the NHS at this important moment and we are certain many thousands of people will selflessly step up to play their part.”
All volunteers joining the NHS scheme will need to undertake training and background checks that are appropriate to the roles that they sign up for. All volunteers registering on the app will need to upload identity documents, driving license (for any driving related tasks), confirmation that they have insurance (if applicable) and any other role-related information.
People can become an NHS Volunteer Responder and join the NHS’s trusted list of volunteers by visiting goodsamapp.org/NHS and adding their details to the NHS section.
Dr Mark Wilson, GoodSAM co-founder, said: “GoodSAM has been saving lives through technology for five years by crowdsourcing resuscitation in cardiac arrest. We are hugely proud to now also be crowdsourcing volunteers to help those in need at this time of national crisis.”
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, said: “Our army of dedicated volunteers is already getting ready to play a crucial part in the coronavirus response.
“GoodSam is a great way to connect those volunteers with people in need quickly and safely. I urge those of you who can to register today, support our NHS and help vulnerable people shielding at home.”