The NHS is looking for volunteers to help vulnerable people stay safe and well at home.
NHS England is looking for 250,000 volunteers to help the 1.5m people who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions.
An NHS spokesman said 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.
The spokesman said 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.
‘I would urge anyone who can to sign up as an NHS Volunteer Responder today.’
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.
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