Your NHS Needs YOU: Govt Calls for Army of 250,000 Volunteers

BLANDFORD FORUM, ENGLAND - JULY 08: First World War recruitment posters including the Alfred Leete's Lord Kitchener's "Wants You" original recruiting poster from 1914 that is estimated at £10000 - £15000 and that are being sold tomorrow in the Onslows Auctioneers, The Great War Centenary and Summer Vintage Posters Auction …
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Health secretary Matt Hancock has called for 250,000 Britons to volunteer in the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic to deliver medicines and shop for the vulnerable.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care made the call to arms during a public announcement from Downing Street on Tuesday.

Mr Hancock said: “I know how worried people are, and while this is a great time of turbulence, it is a moment, too, that the country can come together in that national effort. As the next step in that effort, today we launch NHS volunteers.

“We’re seeking a quarter of a million volunteers — people in good health — to help the NHS for shopping, for delivery of medicines, and to support those who are shielded to protect their own health.

“The NHS volunteer responders is a new scheme set up so people can come and help and make sure the NHS and the local services needed can get all the support they can.”

“‘Your NHS Needs You’ – NHS Call For Volunteer Army,” the National Health Service said in its statement released on Tuesday.

“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 medical service said.

Coordinated through the Good SAM app, members of the public who are fit and healthy can help the 1.5 million vulnerable people who have been asked to isolate themselves. Vital, but simple, tasks include: picking up and delivering medicines from the pharmacy; driving patients to appointments, and to and from hospital; and calling people isolating at home to check on their welfare.

This group of volunteers is on top of the thousands of other individuals who have volunteered for projects to support their communities up and down the country during the coronavirus crisis.

The call comes after the health secretary revealed that 4,500 recently-retired medical professionals had volunteered in the first 48 hours after the government called for its experienced staff to return to work at NHS hospitals, the front line in the battle against the Chinese virus.

To date, that number has nearly tripled to 11,788, which included 6,147 nurses, 2,660 doctors, and other pharmacists and health professionals, with Mr Hancock remarking: “I pay tribute to every single one of those who are returning to the NHS at its time of need.”

A further 5,500 final-year student doctors and 18,700 final year nursing students “will move to the front line to make sure we have the people we need in our NHS to respond to this crisis”; in total, there are over 35,000 more medical staff joining, or rejoining, the NHS.

The UK’s outbreak is around two weeks behind that of Italy, which has seen over 6,000 deaths and is the coronavirus hotspot for Europe, the continent itself being the global epicentre for the pandemic. Tuesday saw the British death toll rise by 87 to 422, the biggest daily rise in the country on record.

On Monday, the prime minister ordered a lockdown of the whole country to prevent the spread of coronavirus. After reports that some people were not heeding instructions, government minister Michael Gove told Britons: “Unless people take appropriate steps now, then the NHS will be under more strain. If the NHS is under more strain, then those that we love, those that we care for most, are at risk of losing their lives.”

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