Coronavirus: This is how you can volunteer to help the NHS
Troops are needed for the war on coronavirus which is why the NHS is rallying volunteers to help vulnerable people stay safe and well at home.
Up to 250,000 volunteers are needed to help up to 1.5 million people who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions.
People 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
All volunteers will need to undertake training and background checks and will have to upload identity documents, driving license (for any driving related tasks), confirmation that they have insurance (if applicable) and any other role-related information.
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.
“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.
"I would urge anyone who can to sign up as an NHS Volunteer Responder today.”
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.
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.
'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...'
“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.”
The recruitment process is being made possible thanks to RVS and the GoodSAM app – a digital tool to help people offer their services to people in need.
Catherine Johnstone CBE, chief executive of 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.”
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.”
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